East Haven’s Former Landfill to Become Solar Farm

ZIP06 | Staff
January 16, 2018

When looking to make use of a full landfill, options are pretty limited. In East Haven, a solution for the landfill at 240 Commerce Street has been found: Greenskies, a Connecticut-based renewable energy company, will construct a solar farm that will generate electricity and revenue for the town, and possibly benefit area businesses.

Ron Wedeking, VP of Project Origination for Greenskies, said the project will start with a one-megawatt solar farm (enough to power approximately 1,000 homes), but if things go well, Greenskies may expand the solar farm up to three to four megawatts.

At a meeting on Dec. 19, 2017, the Town Council voted to approve entering a lease with Greenskies for the landfill property. Director of Administration and Management Sal Brancati said that with the lease, Greenskies would pay the town $15,000 per megawatt generated at the site (yearly), adding that the one megawatt solar farm would generate about $700,000 in Grand List revenue.

Brancati said Greenskies has total responsibility over the development, and that the town wouldn’t have any liability or cost for anything related to the solar farm. He said the development is good for the town, as it’s taking a dead piece of land and can now generate revenue for the town.

Brancati said the area where the solar farm is going is only where the actual landfill is, not at the Transfer Station, and that the Transfer Station will remain for recycling and nothing in that area will be touched. He said the landfill is closed, and the town and Greenskies anticipate no problems putting a solar farm over it.

Ideally, Wedeking would like to see power generated going to the town if the solar farm expands, but the state would need to reopen its virtual net metering program through which an electricity generator like the solar farm could add electricity to the power grid that serves the entire area, and then town buildings could draw an equal amount of energy from the grid while paying a lower-than-usual generation rate.

Other possible purchasers of the power could sign a power purchase agreement with Greenskies to use electricity generated by the farm, which Wedeking said would be less expensive than standard electrical rates.

With Greenskies needing to go through various approval processes from the state and United Illuminating, Wedeking estimates construction on the project will begin in the fourth quarter of 2018, possibly around October.

Brancati said Greenskies currently owns power generation facilities capable of producing about 140 megawatts of throughout the state; one of those developments being a solar farm over a landfill in North Haven. Brancati said that as part of the due diligence for the East Haven project, North Haven First Selectman Michael Freda was contacted to see if he was satisfied with Greenskies, and the answer was yes.

“I worked very closely with Mayor Maturo and Sal Brancati, and I’ve had several conversations with them, and I have recommended Greenskies based on the wonderful experiences that we’ve had and the continued collaborative effort with them,” Freda said.

Freda said Greenskies has excellent customer service and are very good at putting analytics for a solar system together. He said that North Haven is actually looking to expand the system on its landfill site, and is working with Greenskies on other projects as well.