This just-commissioned Vermont landfill solar site was more than five years in the making

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The Brattleboro, Vermont, landfill solar project was energized on June 30, 2018 and is now producing clean, renewably generated electricity. Officials from Windham Solid Waste Management District, along with multiple towns, schools and non-profits securing financial benefits associated with the project, celebrated its commissioning at a ribbon cutting ceremony today. It was also attended by numerous government officials and those responsible for developing the project.

Project details

The 5.7MWp (5MWac) project was jointly developed by Sky Solar and Encore Renewable Energy. Encore is a Burlington, Vermont-based clean energy development company and certified B-Corp. Sky Solar Holdings, a global solar investment company, designed, funded, and managed the project construction, and will serve as the long-term owner and operator.

The solar project is sited on the closed and capped landfill owned by the Windham Solid Waste Management District, located on Old Ferry Road, an industrial park at the north end of Brattleboro, Vermont. With limited development potential, the landfill has been transformed into an innovative energy park, serving as an example for responsible siting of distributed energy resources.

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“The project is the culmination of more than 5 years of work, much of it by volunteer representatives to Windham Solid Waste Management District,” said Robert Spencer, Executive Director. “To build a solar array on a closed and capped landfill requires use of support structures that do not penetrate the landfill cap, so we have over 3,000 concrete ballasts supporting around 16,000 solar panels,” he said.

With the passage of Act 99 in 2014, 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 MW on closed landfills. This legislation put the Brattleboro landfill site on a level playing field with typical undeveloped greenfield sites, and provides the District with a unique opportunity to utilize the property while securing meaningful cost savings for multiple public sector entities in the region, including towns of Brattleboro, Wilmington, Readsboro, Vernon, Wardsboro, Dummerston, Halifax, and Newfane, schools in Brattleboro, Vernon, Putney , Marlboro and Landmark colleges, and non-profits including the Brattleboro Retreat.

The solar array is part of Vermont’s industry-leading group net-metering program. These public sector customers will receive net metering credits on electric bills for specified meters at a significant discount compared to their value. It is estimated that, in aggregate, these customers will save approximately $375,000 in the first year of project operation, with the opportunity for significantly increased additional savings over the 25-year contract period. In addition, the District will receive annual lease revenue for hosting the project that will be used to advance the District’s work in recycling, composting, education, and perhaps future renewable energy from an anaerobic digester for food scraps.

Encore Renewable Energy, a local clean energy company focused on commercial-scale solutions on challenged properties such as landfills, served as the development partner on the project and facilitated the execution of lease and net metering credit purchase agreements for Sky Solar, which managed construction, financing and operations of the project.

Sky Solar teamed up with Encore Renewable Energy to fund the project and become its long-term owner. Sky is a clean energy development company, that currently owns and operates over 50 facilities in the US, Canada, Caribbean and South America, with another 100 in various development stages.

— Solar Builder magazine