New England Landfill Becomes Solar Plant

Landfills are eyesores, especially in densely populated regions. What to do with all that space, once the landfill is closed? In Springfield, Massachusetts, Western Massachusetts Electric Company (WMECo) has announced that it will be turning the local Cottage Street landfill into a solar facility, set to generate up to 4.2 megawatts (MW) of power.

Upon completion, the project will be home to some some 17,000 solar panels, making it the largest solar facility in New England (the largest plant currently in the region is WMECo’s Silver Lake Solar Facility in Pittsfield, Mass.). The utility worked with local officials (who joined in making the official announcement) on transforming the ultimate in brownfields–a capped dump–into a large-scale solar resource.

WMECo Silver Lake Solar Project

image via WMECo

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts has a goal to install 250 megawatts of solar by 2017, and under the Green Communities Act, each Massachusetts electric utility may own up to 50 MW of solar generation, subject to approval by the Department of Public Utilities. So far,
WMECo has received authorization to install 6 MW of solar, which construction of the Springfield facility will complete.

WMECo noted this project reportedly will bring $22M of construction to the region and is expected to contribute several hundred thousand dollars of annual property tax revenue to the city of Springfield.

Susan DeFreitas has covered all manner of green technology for EarthTechling since 2009. She is a graduate of Prescott College for the Liberal Arts and the Environment, and has a background in marketing green businesses. Her work on green living has been featured in Yes! Magazine, the Utne Reader and Natural Home.