South Burlington Landfill Goes Solar—A model of responsible solar siting

SB Landfill Solar Site Map

The South Burlington Landfill Solar Project has received a Certificate of Public Good from the Public Service Board. The 2.15 MWdc (1.55 MWac) project has been developed by Encore Renewable Energy, a local clean energy company, and will be funded and owned by Connecticut-based Altus Power America, Inc.  The solar project will be sited on the closed and capped landfill owned by the City, located off Airport Parkway in South Burlington. The closed landfill has lain fallow for nearly 25 years as it still contains environmental risks for most forms of use or development, with limited opportunity for revenue generation or public use.

The SB Energy Committee celebrates.
The SB Energy Committee celebrates.

“We are excited to be a leader in repurposing a closed landfill for the generation of renewable energy. This otherwise unusable property will now provide savings, energy, and opportunity for our community,” said Helen Riehle, City Council Chair.

Four years ago, when the City began looking at the potential for this project, it was financially unfeasible.  Then, in 2014 with the passage of Act 99, the Vermont legislature began encouraging exactly this type of solar array siting—expanding the net metering program to allow for solar arrays of up to 5 megawatts on closed landfills. This legislation put the City’s landfill site on a level playing field with the typical greenfield site, and provides South Burlington with a unique and invaluable opportunity to utilize an undevelopable piece of property, while securing considerable value for the City’s taxpayers.

The project will occupy approximately 8 acres of the landfill, which was closed and capped in 1992. The site is located in an industrial area adjacent to South Burlington Public Works complex, the City’s sewer treatment plant, the Chittenden Solid Waste District Environmental Depot, the Burlington International Airport, the Chittenden Bus Depot, and Interstate 89.

The project will consist of:

  • generate roughly 2,665,000 kWh annually,
  • supply electricity to power the equivalent of nearly 400 average Vermont homes; and
  • provide South Burlington taxpayers with approximately $5 Million in municipal and school district savings over the life of the project.

“This project represents the type of public-private partnership that is so important to South Burlington’s continued development,” said Riehle. “By working with a local solar development company, Encore Renewable Energy, we are contributing to the local economy; and the project itself will create income for the City on an otherwise unusable property while generating electricity in a location that is proximal to significant electrical demand.”

The solar array will employ net-metering, where the energy produced will be sold to Green Mountain Power; the City’s electrical power provider. The City will then receive credits on the electric bills for specified meters—municipal and school district facilities. “The 25-year contract will provide the opportunity for long-term savings and predictable electric pricing—the projected savings could be up to to $5 million,” said South Burlington City Manager Kevin Dorn.

City Manager Kevin Dorn talks with Senator Tim Ashe and Representative Maida Townshend at the landfill.
City Manager Kevin Dorn talks with Senator Tim Ashe and Representative Maida Townshend at the landfill.

Encore Renewable Energy, a local clean energy company focused on community-scale solar systems served as the City’s agent in developing the project and facilitating the net-metering credit purchase agreement with Altus Power America, a renewable energy project financing company which invests in large scale solar renewable energy generation projects and has experience siting arrays on brownfields and landfills.

Chad Farrell, president of Encore Renewable Energy, speaks about project.
Chad Farrell, president of Encore Renewable Energy, speaks about project.

“We are thrilled to have been able to assist the City of South Burlington in navigating this exciting project from its concept phase through to its current fully entitled and construction-ready status. We are excited to see the project move toward commissioning and operation so as to begin delivering real value to the City of South Burlington,” said Chad Farrell, president of Encore Renewable Energy.

Altus Power America, Inc., a Connecticut-based solar investment company, has teamed up with Encore Renewable Energy and the City of South Burlington to fund and become the long term owner of the project, which will be Altus Power America, Inc.’s fourth landfill solar project on the east coast. Currently Altus owns and operates approximately 80 MWs of solar PV projects across the US.

“Altus is proud to have teamed up with Encore and City of South Burlington to bring this solar project to fruition. The project will be one of the first of many large scale projects we own in VT and we are excited to make use of this municipal landfill to bring real value to the City and its constituents.” said Lars Norell, Managing Partner and Co-Founder of Altus Power America, Inc.

While other communities have promoted solar on a brownfields and landfills, South Burlington has emerged as a leader for other municipalities looking to pursue similar projects. Smaller projects are sited in Rutland and Hartford, while another project is currently under development in Brattleboro.

The project is expected to break ground in Q1 or Q2 2017.

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