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‘Sun farmer’ says future is bright for solar power
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‘Sun farmer’ says future is bright for solar power

A Sun Farm Network solar panel provides energy for a house in the town of High Bridge.
A Sun Farm Network solar panel provides energy for a house in the town of High Bridge.

Mark Warner will be taking a highly optimistic view of a growing world problem when he speaks about “kicking the carbon habit” Thursday, Dec. 10, at the Princeton Public Library.

Warner is founder and CEO of the Sun Farm Network in Flemington. His development company has installed several hundred solar power systems in the state in homes, offices, churches, and synagogues.

His talk will be sponsored by the American Jewish Committee, an organization committed to cleaning up the environment and breaking the nation’s dependence on foreign oil.

“We are dependent on stored fossil fuel sources to provide the majority of our energy, and there are some very negative consequences,” Warner said in a Nov. 23 interview. “We are dependent on those fuels politically. As those fuels become more scarce, there are very negative economic consequences. And every time you burn one of those fossil fuels, you create a lot of CO2, which contributes to climate change.”

A Tewksbury resident, Warner has been developing new businesses since the 1980s. He said he has great hopes for a future with a cleaner environment and reduced dependence on oil.

As a “sun farmer,” he is trying to reach beyond his “niche market” of “probably 5 percent” of New Jerseyans who draw their electric power from solar panels. Warner is looking for upward of 40 percent of the state’s business and home owners to go solar in the near future.

For those who don’t own private homes or have the resources to install solar panels on their roofs, his company is developing shared community-level systems.

“Rather than building one system at a time, we build one system for a community and let residents of that community share the output. But we have to get some laws changed in order to get that solution,” he said.

Just last week, the NJ Board of Public Utilities said that it would launch an incentive program for New Jersey-sourced solar power projects.

The state, said Warner, “has one of the most progressive frameworks in the whole country. We are the second largest solar market” after California. He hopes Gov.-elect Chris Christie will champion solar power when he takes office in January.

“It wouldn’t be prudent for any person to say things won’t change. But it’s a very bipartisan agenda,” said Warner. “Everybody is supportive of more sustainable energy. Whether you’re a Republican or a Democrat or any other label you might want to use, pretty much everybody is a ‘green’ candidate nowadays.”

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