PHILLIPSBURG, N.J. – Solar power and a potential facelift for the former Elks lodge were on the agenda at Phillipsburg Town Council’s meeting Tuesday night.
After its annual reorganization with three new members, council authorized an agreement with Phoebus Fund LLC to purchase electricity from a planned solar farm on Belvidere Road in Lopatcong.
Andrew Kennedy, representing Phoebus Fund, gave a short presentation on the project, which will be built on agricultural land and designed to allow the farmer to grow crops alongside the solar installation.
According to Kennedy, Phillipsburg uses an average of 5.8 million kilowatt-hours of electricity a year, at a cost of 9.7 cents per kWh. He said the planned solar project could cut that expense in half, coming in around 4.5 cents per kWh.
Town administrator Rob Bengivenga explained that the agreement left to the company all the costs of building and maintaining the solar installation, and the town would only be obligated to purchase its electricity through Phoebus Fund if the power were less expensive than that from conventional sources.
Councilman Lee Clark said the agreement would help meet the goals of Gov. Phil Murphy’s Energy Master Plan, which calls for a move to 100% clean energy by 2050.
“Phillipsburg will be doing our part and saving residents money,” Clark said.
It would also, he said, have the benefit of helping protect local farmland from development.
Council also discussed the potential renovation of the former Elks Lodge at 75 S. Main Street.
Jessica Margulies of Eclectic Architecture described the project, which would include two retail spaces and a mix of one- and two-bedroom apartments.
The proposed renovation would require some exceptions for residential density and parking, but council voted to have the planning board prepare the needed amendments to the Riverfront Redevelopment Plan.
Margulies said that, should the project get planning board approval, it would take about a year to complete.