Solar Power Adds New Life to Closed Landfills
Author: John Brusa, P.E.
In the last few years more municipalities have been starting to think about alternative options for their closed and capped Landfills. One option that has become increasingly popular, no doubt with help from New York’s REV strategy (Reforming the Energy Vision) and NY-Sun initiative, has been solar energy. In New York State in the last several years Madison County Landfill, Clarkstown Landfill, Williamson Landfill and Patterson Landfill have already planned and completed the construction/installation of solar systems on the surface of their capped landfills. There are currently 19 other sites under development that, on average, would produce about 2 Mega-Watts (MW) of solar power each.
Who is involved?
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) is the main regulatory agency involved. The NYSDEC is very supportive of this re-use and the staff has already had experience with these projects. Their primary concern is the protection and maintenance of the final cover on the landfill as well as the protection of the landfill gas system. The NYSDEC is currently developing written guidance but there has been good success and progress in locations that have already implemented the use of solar panels at closed landfills.
Also, note that a Part 360 solid waste management permit will not be required in NYS before placing solar panels on the closed landfill but a modification to the Closure Plan & Post Closure Care Manual will be required along with a plan review by NYSDEC. A stormwater permit, properly designed access roads, and cover soil protection will also all be required to reduce stormwater impacts.
What about funding?
NY Sun Initiative
$1 Billion initiative to achieve over 3GW of customer-sited solar installations from 2014-2023
Right now there are available incentives for solar installation, more information can be found here:http://ny-sun.ny.gov/ including NYSERDA programs
NY Sun Financial Factors: http://ny-sun.ny.gov/Learn-About-Solar/Financial-Factors
NYSERDA Clean Energy Fund (CEF)
What are my options for Landfill Development?
Remote Net Metering- Where a single project can offset multiple electric meters “remotely” vs. net metering where the electric grid is basically used as a “bank account”.
- Cash Sale
Third Party Ownership:
- Power Purchase Agreement (see NY Sun Financial Factors link above for more information)
Shared Solar Ownership:
- Community Distribution Generation (CDG) – Shared solar with a minimum of ten members, no long term commitment, no more than 40% of output can go to large electric consumers
Where can I start and who do I contact?
Barton & Loguidice (B&L) has been designing solar application projects and working with the involved agencies for decades. B&L was also the engineer for the first photovoltaic application of its kind in the northeast at the Madison County Landfill where a flexible membrane photovoltaic system was an integral part of the landfill closure system at the active landfill. B&L is currently assisting other municipalities with oversight of solar projects on their closed landfills. We would be happy to answer any questions and help you determine if a solar application would be right for you. Contact B&L’s Trisha Jesset or John Brusa, P.E. at (315) 457-5200. You can also contact the NYSDEC Climate Policy Analyst at (518) 402-8448 for additional details.
More related information can be found here:
NYS DEC Webinar on Solar Power on Landfills: Case Studies and Lessons Learned, presented on March 10th 2016 http://www.dec.ny.gov/energy/84359.html
By using solar panels on your closed landfill or other location you can also earn points to become certified as a Climate Smart Community (CSC) through the NYS DEC Climate Smart Communities Certification program. Visit http://www.dec.ny.gov/energy/96511.html for more information.