If extreme weather knocked out the power, as was the case two years ago during Hurricane Sand,y and earlier this year during a string of power outages, residents, forced to endure several days of a damp, cold and dark environment, concur that it would be extremely desirable to have available a local haven with heat and electricity. In anticipation of any future power crises, borough officials are exploring options to provide shelter the next time such a situation bedevils the borough. Highland Park officials are applying for a grant from Sustainable Jersey that would give the borough the means to explore the feasibility of adding solar panels to Highland Park schools and municipal properties. (Disclosure: Randall Solomon is co-director of Sustainable Jersey, and is the publisher of Highland Park Planet. Mr. Solomon, however, is not involved in Highland Park’s application and will not have influence in the selection process.)
If Highland Park were to receive the grant and if the project should pan out, these solar panels would support an emergency backup in event of a borough-wide power failure. During extreme weather situations, this would allow the borough to offer warm shelters for residents who wanted them, as well as places to recharge personal electronics, in addition to providing power to those buildings. One thing the project could not do is to generate electricity for the entire borough. Highland Park draws its power from the grids in New Brunswick and in Edison; localized “microgrids” aren’t an option in New Jersey at this time. Sustainable New Jersey will announce recipients of the grant by Dec. 12.