An effort to make the township's wastewater management plant among the first in the region to be partially powered by solar panels is moving forward with the blessing of township officials.
The township committee gave approval earlier this week to explore the option for the Woodland Avenue plant, which services the Mullica Hill section of the township with a capacity of about 800,000 gallons per day.
"This gives us the go-ahead to go to the next level," said Mike Gonserkevis, superintendent for wastewater treatment in the township.
Gonserkevis said it is not yet clear how much the solar panels would cost or what the potential savings would be from the solar power generated and through rebates from the power company.
"We'll be able to get some hard costs and figures now and see what the benefits will be," Gonserkevis said.
Gonserkevis said Atlantic County's hybrid solar and wind-powered wastewater treatment plant in Atlantic City, which opened in 2005, serves as a model for using renewable energy sources.
"Solar power is basically a bunch of panels out there collecting energy from the sun," Gonserkevis said. "There is nothing really fancy about them, but there is a potential there to benefit the environment and cut costs on the electric bill."
Mayor Mike Koestler said the committee's backing of the solar power, or photovoltaic power as it is also known, is part of a commitment to become more "environmentally friendly."
Harrison isn't the only local public entity investigating solar power.
Washington Township school district is in the process of leasing solar panels to help reduce utility costs and South Harrison Township officials have entertained a presentation on the topic.
Rowan University officials recently committed to purchasing 25 percent of the school's energy from wind sources and solar panels have been incorporated into the design of the South Jersey Technology Park at Rowan University being built on university land in Mantua Township.