Solar panels such as the ones shown above are expected to generate enough electricity to save Picatinny Arsenal about $57,000 a year.

Once the target of being the "ugly duckling" of Picatinny, the former "burning grounds" will soon rise from the ashes like a phoenix and serve the arsenal in a more environmental way with solar panels that will be constructed over the grounds.

Picatinny's former burning grounds are located near the arsenal's main gate and cover seven acres of land. The grounds once served as a location to burn waste left on combusted explosives, such as the residue on artillery shells before the metal was recycled.

However, in more recent years, Picatinny re-located its burning grounds and plans to install solar panels over its former location. A number of options were considered for the project, such as converting the grounds into a running track.

But because the grounds are not suitable for most applications, placing solar panels over its current location was found to be most efficient and beneficial choice for Picatinny.

"There has always been a big push to do energy projects and solar power is one of the renewable projects Picatinny would like us to pursue," explained Rich Havrisko, the director of public works.

"The issue has been finding a place on the arsenal to do all these projects. Luckily, our solar panel project just sort of fell into place."

In 1960, the grounds opened as a burning area for explosive waste, an operation that was performed directly on the ground. When the practice discontinued in 1985, the explosives-contaminated wastes were then disposed of by placing the waste in its nine burning pans rather than the ground.

The burning grounds were often a concern for local municipalities, residents from nearby Dover and other surrounding communities that often witnessed smoke rising from the arsenal.

In March 1990, though, Picatinny was placed on the United States Environmental Protection Agency's or the EPA's, National Priority List (NPL) and designated a Superfund site,a place where hazardous waste is located.

Still, after the NPL designation, Picatinny with EPA and New Jersey Department of Environmental Regulation prioritized 156 potential contaminated sites that needed to be investigated and the burning grounds became the highest priority of all the sites.

A Record of Decision was signed in 2004 by the Picatinny Garrison Command and the EPA to remediate the site.

"The Army is encouraging installations to try and get to a 'Net Zero' energy consumption, which is a big initiative to produce what you're consuming,"said Rich Walter, the chief of engineering for the project.

"And there's energy security in this [solar array] project too because the power is being produced inside our fence-line."

The new solar array will cover approximately two to three acres of the former burning grounds and is expected to produce 685,000 kilowatt hours of solar renewable energy per year.

This will generate 685 Renewable Energy Credits (REC) annually. REC's represent the amount of solar energy generated from renewable resources, such as sunlight or water.

One REC is equal to about 1000 kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity. The arsenal will be generating electricity through solar power and save approximately $56,531 annually.

Moreover, the additional source of energy will also reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The solar array project is expandable and eventually will produce one megawatt of electricity. Construction of the panels is expected in the latter part of 2014.

Page last updated Fri May 2nd, 2014 at 09:42