Wayne Business Owner Joins Clean Energy Council

New bi-partisan organization will work to advance renewable energy initiatives in New Jersey.

A Wayne resident is joining the fight for a cleaner, less polluted future for the Garden State.

Robert Simpson, the owner of Brother Sun Solar, is one of 111 business owners to join the newly-formed New Jersey Business Council for Clean Energy (BCCE), a non-partisan network of businesses and business leaders committed to advancing renewable energy initiatives in New Jersey. The group is comprised of solar energy providers, engineering firms, and solar panel developers.

“Making renewable energy more affordable and accessible to people just makes sense,” Simpson said. “Here is a fostering industry that helps make the planet healthy. We have to embrace it as much as we can.”

The organization wants to work with local, county, and state officials, including the state Board of Public Utilities, to position New Jersey as a world leader in the development, manufacturing, and installation of clean energy and energy-efficient technologies, including solar- and wind-generating power sources.

The group also wants to reduce the state’s dependence on importing fossil fuels from other countries.

“We’re here to ensure that the voices of businesses that specialize in renewable energy are heard, not just by residents, but by politicians and those in places of authority as well,” said Mike Torpey, co-executive director of the BCCE. Torpey a Republican, was to former Governor Christie Todd Whitman’s chief of staff. “It’s an opportunity for businesses in this area to participate in public policy.”

The group also hopes its formation, which was announced last week, will have a positive impact on the state’s economy.

“The development of the clean energy sector is critical to our economy,” Torpey said. “It is an area that is only going to continue to grow, and, hopefully with our help, at a faster, more sustainable pace.”

Solar panels are already a common site in the township.

Solar panels are in the Wayne Public School District. boasts the largest solar energy facility on a college campus in the United States.

Educating the public and political leaders on the advantages of renewable, natural energy is also one of the organization’s primary objectives.

“We need to target leaders on both sides of the political aisle,” said Rich Gannon, the organization’s other co-director. Gannon was a senior official in former Governor Jim Florio’s administration. “If there’s one thing that politicians should be able to agree on, it’s helping the planet.”

Educating others is mostly what Simpson does now. He’s been in business in town for 10 years. He used to install and maintain solar energy systems, but now he works mostly to educate others on the benefits of renewable energy.

“There used to be so much federal stimulus money for things like solar panels and other renewable energy projects for individuals,” Simpson said. “Now so much of the work is done by big corporations.”

And that’s a big problem, Simpson said.

It used to be that someone would receive a grant from the government to install solar panels on his or her home or business, or they would just pay for the project themselves. But now, Simpson said, another company installs the panels for free. The owner’s monthly utility bill may decrease, but the company keeps the renewable energy certificates (RECs) earned as a result of the energy the system generates. The owner does not receive credit for them and cannot sell them as commodities. One REC is earned for every megawatt of power generated.

“These companies are basically renting people’s roofs and the people, sure they have a reduced energy bill, but they can’t sell the RECs they earn and that’s a shame,” Simpson said. “There has to be a way to make solar, and all kinds of renewable energy, accessible to everyone and hopefully that’s what [the BCCE] will work towards.”

Rob Burke March 06, 2012 at 11:59 AM
Mr. Hubbard perhaps was unaware that Mr.Simpson's "experience" includes his being on the Board of Wayne Energy Corp., which has been the subject of ongoing ethics proceedings and other legal challenges in Trenton. Egads!
Victor Alfieri March 06, 2012 at 12:30 PM
Great Job Mr. Simpson, Thank you for your continued support for local sustainability. Keep up the good work.
Sydney March 06, 2012 at 01:10 PM
I was aware of that, Robert.Simpson is an upstanding person. Glad to hear he has joined the fight as he has always been very supportive of sustainability. We need many more businesses to do the same.
Justice March 06, 2012 at 01:44 PM
Mr. Burke, perhaps you need to re-iterate the implications of ethics' charges. It appears that the concept is unclear to the Rumana-anians. By the way, thanks for the update.
Rob Burke March 06, 2012 at 01:51 PM
It was curious. Simpson obviously is an expert on the BPU grants for solar projects. And he sells solar panels for a living. And he is a Trustee of Wayne Energy. And the Attorney General's Office & the BPU yanked a $2.3 MM grant to Wayne Energy for solar panels for the municipal complex because of conflicts of interest and bidding law violations. The BPU & the AG gave Wayne Energy lots of time and extra do-overs to change their ways of doing business to preserve this grant that would have ultimately saved us taxpayers $20 million over 20 years. But Simpson and his co-Trustees chose to do nothing. And we lost a bunch of money and an important green project.
Justice March 06, 2012 at 02:24 PM
In other words, more shenanigans at taxpayer expense. More of the same, whether it is at the Council Level or the BOE level. Thanks for the reminder, just in time for the BOE dog and pony show.
Rob Burke March 06, 2012 at 02:37 PM
That "the organization wants to work with the BPU..." is somewhat amusing given the history among Wayne Energy Trustee Simpson & the BPU regarding the revoked multimillion dollar grant. Its a shame that no one has advocated on behalf of the taxpayers to recoup these lost millions and millions of dollars. Is everyone really so apathetic that they don't care? Or are they just waiting for Bill Brennan to take it for them?
Scondo March 06, 2012 at 03:21 PM
Is this Mr. Simpson also on the Wayne Environmental Commission ?
Scondo March 06, 2012 at 03:23 PM
Or was he on the Environmental Commission at the time of the wind turbine application ?
Rob Burke March 06, 2012 at 03:24 PM
Yes. On which he served with Jerry Bello -- who ought not have been there in the first place as has been well established at this point. A tangled web, indeed.
Rob Burke March 06, 2012 at 03:26 PM
Yes, again. As was Jerry Bello (albeit illegally).
Scondo March 06, 2012 at 03:32 PM
Now Rob, let's not go there again, but even I , being an unsophisticated simple town folk kind of guy can see where there might be a little too much coziness in having environmental commissioners for the town act as board members for Wayne Energy. Can't we get a broader base of interested citizens to assume some of these post, or are we always going to have the same faces moving about in the same arena.
Rob Burke March 06, 2012 at 03:37 PM
Don't ask the question if you can't handle the truthful, complete answer. Unsophisticated & simple? C'mon Scondo -- we all know better than that. And we also know that you understand the self-enrichment endeavors of someone who sells solar panels for a living to be on the Board of Wayne Energy, and on the Wayne Environmental Commission and on some organization looking to snuggle up to the BPU. A very energetic endeavor, indeed.


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