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July 16, 2020
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No longer an active landfill, the capped waste site at 240 Commerce Street will in the next few months be covered by a  3,200-panel solar electric array built by Greenskies Renewable Energy LLC. Photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier

No longer an active landfill, the capped waste site at 240 Commerce Street will in the next few months be covered by a 3,200-panel solar electric array built by Greenskies Renewable Energy LLC. (Photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier | Buy This Photo)

Capped Landfill Site Gets a Second Life Through Solar Energy Farm

Published Jan. 07, 2020

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Construction will soon start on a new solar farm at the Town of East Haven’s 20-acre capped landfill site at 240 Commerce Street.

When completed, the mounted solar installation will be comprised of 3,200 panels, with an estimated energy production of 1,500,000 kilowatt-hours (kWH) a year, according to the company spearheading the project, Middletown-based Greenskies.

“A typical Connecticut household will use approximately 9,000 killowatt-hours a year, so this system will generate enough electricity to power 166 Connecticut households,” said Jeff Hintzke, vice president of policy and new markets at Greenskies.

The Town of East Haven and Greenskies signed a 20-year ground lease agreement, enabling the town to find a second use for a piece of property that “was generating zero revenue for the town,” said East Haven Economic Development Director Sal Brancati.

The project comes at “no cost, no liability to the town…It generates $240,000 in revenue and the other part of it, which we haven’t done yet, is the power purchase agreement,” Brancati said.

Although the final terms are under negotiation, a power purchase agreement (PPA) would allow the Town of East Haven to purchase the electricity from the solar farm at a rate anticipated to be lower than the eight and a half cents per kilowatt hour it currently pays. The PPA would need to be approved by the Town Council.

Brancati says he anticipates reaching an agreement on the terms of the PPA with Greenskies at the end of the solar farm’s construction, in three to four months.

Under Connecticut law, virtual net metering enables the Town of East Haven to share billing credits from any excess power generated by the solar installation with other entities in town.

“Thanks to virtual net metering legislation…the town will also have the opportunity to purchase the energy produced by the solar farm at a reduced rate for use by high energy-using facilities like the town’s ice rink and high school,” said State Representative Joe Zullo (R-99) in a written statement.

The size of the solar farm also has the potential to be expanded, with lands adjacent to the landfill unoccupied, but “that will be the mayor’s call,” Brancati said.

In addition to a reduction in electrical costs, there are other benefits of the project.

Hintzke says “these types of local installations provide a number of benefits…[It] gives them price certainty for 20 to 25 years…[and] a certain amount of local control and civic pride.”

Other municipalities aiming to capitalize on the benefits of solar energy have led to an increase in similar projects cropping up in towns throughout Connecticut.

The solar farm in East Haven “is very common and typical for us,” said Hintzke. “We did a back of the envelope calculation that we probably have systems in one third of all municipalities in Connecticut.”

North Haven is one of those communities. It has solar installations at various spots in town including the North Haven landfill, the North Haven Middle School, Target, and on Catholic Cemeteries Association land.

A ground-breaking ceremony for East Haven’s project was held on Dec. 17 at which Mayor Joseph Carfora thanked his predecessor, Joe Maturo, and his staff for their efforts in bringing the undertaking to fruition.

He also said in a written statement on Dec. 17 that he feels “this project is a prime example of how the public and private sectors should join forces to have a positive impact.”

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