A decommissioned landfill in the Town of Clarkstown is about to become home to more than just decomposing trash. With construction expected to wrap up this fall, Clarkstown will become the first municipality in New York State to start up a large-scale photovoltaic (PV) solar array system on a capped landfill. The cutting-edge “solar field” is expected to save taxpayers as much as $4 million over the next 30 years. H2M has been working with Clarkstown on this innovative project since 2012, when the Town first sought to construct a 2.25 megawatt (MW) solar array on 13 acres of a 100-acre capped landfill in West Nyack. H2M initially prepared a feasibility study to identify a location within the landfill where the proposed system could be installed. During the process, we reviewed existing electric usage in the Town, identified regulatory and utility regulations and requirements to be addressed, and summarized the necessary permits to be approved. Based on the results of the feasibility study, the Town elected to move forward with the project, and a Request for Proposal (RFP) was prepared and sent to potential solar array system developers. Once a preferred vendor was selected, H2M assisted the Town with the development and negotiation of a 20-year Power Purchase Agreement with the developer.
The Power Purchase Agreement made the project eligible for a $2 million incentive subsidy from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA). Organization and timing were integral to the success of this project, as it demanded coordination and approvals from Orange and Rockland (O&R) Utilities, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC), Rockland County Solid Waste Management Authority, Rockland County Trade Unions, NYSERDA, and the New York Power Authority. Because the solar array system and electrical interconnections will be constructed on an 18-year-old capped landfill, the NYSDEC required submittal of an Installation Work Plan to ensure that the integrity of the landfill’s geosynthetic membrane cap would not be compromised. Approval from NYSDEC was granted in November 2013 for the installation of 8,272 PV solar modules, which will produce electricity to be sold back to the utility grid—enough to power about 2,000 homes. There is no cost to the Town for the installation of the solar array system, and it is estimated that in year 7 of the 20-year agreement the utility rate cost for the PV system will be less than the forecasted rate charged by O&R Utilities. For more information, please contact George Desmarais, P.E., at firstname.lastname@example.org.