West Windsor has a chance to become an environmental leader with the installation of the proposed solar micro grid, and I hope that objections from council members don’t mean we lose out on this opportunity.

I am writing as a West Windsor resident who has been in the energy industry for nearly 20 years. I am also an adjunct professor at Columbia University’s Earth Institute.

The solar system that PSE&G is proposing for the municipal complex is well-proven technology. In the U.S. this past year, approximately 14,000 megawatts of solar were installed, representing a $30 billion industry. Solar and wind together now account for about 6 percent of U.S. power generation.

One of the challenges that has, in the past, prevented solar from further growth is that it has only been able to operate when the sun is shining.  However, in recent years, there has been significant growth in the kind of back-up battery storage systems PSE&G is proposing for West Windsor.

According to market research firm IHS, the batteries that will be deployed in West Windsor will be among the 6,000 megawatts of battery storage systems deployed globally in 2017.

Any concern about a solar micro grid system being “a big question mark” goes against the billions of dollars that are being invested every year in this technology. Any concern about the batteries not being charged “100 percent of the time” can be addressed through the kind of project planning that companies like PSE&G do every day. For example, the batteries could have a higher capacity than otherwise needed to account for PSE&G sometimes needing the battery for grid use.

This project seems like the perfect opportunity for West Windsor to combine environmental leadership and financial responsibility. I can’t think of  an easier decision that our council will make in 2017.

— Scott Fisher, West Windsor