The concept of “Brightfields,” turning closed landfills into renewable energy generators, is one gaining much interest locally and around the country. In Methuen, MA this concept is becoming reality.
As an environmental compliance specialist to Methuen’s Owner’s Agent (The Cadmus Group), SAK Environmental conducted a site and permit review, and a fatal flaws analysis of the landfill site. SAK Environmental coordinated with City and State Officials, and multiple environmental regulatory agencies, and assisted in the preparation of bid documents for the City to enter into a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with a solar developer to construct and maintain the solar array. Then the City agrees to purchase power from the developer for a fixed period of time (typically 20-years).
When planning a ground mounted PV system (vs. a roof mount), there are several site and environmental considerations to evaluate prior to entering into a PPA with a solar developer.
The overall potential size of system (given slopes and solar exposure), current landfill conditions and regulatory status, and identification of any wetland areas or endangered species are all issues to assess when performing a feasibility analysis for PV solar array sites. While the solar developer’s engineering team typically has the resources to complete all required environmental permitting, a savvy property owner or municipal committee will want to know about any fatal flaws and/or anticipated permit requirements in advance of committing to the project. Understanding potential environmental challenges ahead of time allows for realistic cost and project timeline planning. The site owner should also confirm that the solar developer has a qualified and experienced permitting team on board.
This project, funded partially by the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act (ARRA) through a MA DOER grant, and is allowing cities and towns, like Methuen, to realize sustained savings on the town’s electricity bills for a fixed contract period.