The failures of the solar panel project have caused many far-reaching financial and legal problems for Sussex County. It is a complex problem, and will remain an issue that the County and State will need to grapple with for some time. One facet that is easy to overlook is the impact at the municipal level.
Jennifer Dericks of TAP into Sparta has an excellent article on this aspect of the story, describing the challenges faced by Sparta Township for their part of the ongoing project.
The outstanding solar panel construction work is presented on the Sussex County web site.
There are many sides to this issue that must be reconciled. Solar energy is and will be a critical component of the world’s inevitable transition away from carbon-based fuel. The speed of this transformation greatly affects the rate of climate change.
Although the benefits of solar collection systems are obvious, the business end has many risks. The cost of a large-scale solar project is very volatile. The technology is improving at a fast rate, adding more uncertainty. Business models are complex for companies involved in the manufacture, installation, and finance of these systems. This paves the way for well-intentioned projects to collapse under the complexity, but also for hucksters to take advantage of this environment and rob the public. It’s not always easy to see the difference.
The political cost is also high. Conservative groups aligned with the powerful fossil fuel industry have used these problems to sway public opinion against solar energy. This puts future solar projects at risk, as elected officials are sure to approach these with an over-abundance of caution.