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Why Massachusetts is the best state for landfill solar arrays

Author: ELIZABETH MCGOWAN

McGowan, Elizabeth. “Why Massachusetts Is the Best State for Landfill Solar Arrays.” Energy News Network, 14 Dec. 2018, energynews.us/2018/03/28/northeast/why-massachusetts-is-the-best-state-for-landfill-solar-arrays/?utm_source=Solutions%2BStory%2BTracker.

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A 2.2-megawatt solar array on a shuttered municipal solid waste landfill in Lexington, Massachusetts, is not particularly remarkable on its own.

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But this, combined with 100 or so other similar brownfield projects in Massachusetts, make the state a national leader in converting formerly contaminated sites to clean energy production.

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Henry Poppe (Feb 02 2021 11:13AM) : She never explicitly brings up the problem of how to deal with landfills but this is where she mention what the solar panels are doing in relations to the landfills.
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Though a few sites feature wind turbines, photovoltaic panels dominate. And advocates credit the state’s clean energy policies as well as the abundance of suitable sites.

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Massachusetts accounts for roughly 40 percent of the 253 renewable energy installations identified thus far by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s RE-Powering America’s Land Initiative — or at least 258 of the 1,398 total megawatts brought online through October. The agency’s data base stretches back to 1997.

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Henry Poppe (Feb 02 2021 11:21AM) : Here the author establishes credibility through statistics providing numbers to the extent of Massachusetts solar farms.
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Sam Fedor (Feb 05 2021 11:21AM) : Proof of success more

Massachusetts success in regards to clean energy is proof not only that sustainable energy production is a clean and efficient alternative to fossil fuels, but that government policy in favor of renewable energy allows for these sorts of programs to succeed.

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Lisa Kasabyan (Feb 09 2021 10:19AM) : As the author mentions a bit further down, the reason that solar energy is working/producing so much in Massachusetts is due to the reason that they have a "robust solar program". more

This leads me to believe that problem the author is addressing is that states aren’t properly supporting their renewable energy source programs, and that is what makes them less effective and impactful.

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Elsewhere in the Northeast, Pennsylvania has six projects generating 178.5 MW; New Jersey has 20 projects at 120 MW; and New York has 21 projects totaling 91 MW.

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Nationwide, Wyoming leads in overall capacity with 296 MW of wind power coming from just five installations.

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Sam Fedor (Feb 05 2021 11:24AM) : Room to Grow more

If there’s one thing Wyoming has a lot of, its wind. Imagine how much power could be produced if Wyoming were to put in more wind farm installations. They have the land and god knows the air for it; it’s not impossible to imagine a Wyoming powered by wind power in the near future.

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‘Non-controversial projects’

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While the Northeast is home to only about 7 percent of the country’s landfills, the region is a hot spot for brownfield conversions

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“Financial incentives and the regulatory environment have to be there to make solar happen,” solar developer Michael Singer tells Northeast Energy News. “And Massachusetts has had a robust solar program.”

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Singer, a principal with Wellesley, Massachusetts-based Renova Partners, coordinated with its sister company, Brightfields Development LLC, to complete the complex, two-part Lexington project on about 5 acres last May. A traditional solar array generates 1.4 MW, while the remaining 0.8 MW is mounted on a pair of 30,000-square foot solar canopies. Those high-off-the-ground canopies allow the town to continue composting, storing emergency equipment and collecting regional hazardous materials at the site

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Henry Poppe (Feb 02 2021 11:17AM) : This is where McGowan brings up the solution of having solar arrays covering the landfills generating plenty of renewable energy and at a cost that will pay its self off in the long run.
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Traditionally, most towns in Massachusetts had their own landfills. Installing solar on closed ones is usually an easy sell because renewables can generate money for the town and they don’t trigger local opposition because they are treeless open spaces, Singer says.

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“Put those factors together and you have non-controversial projects that can be extremely financially beneficial,” he continues.

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Why Massachusetts?

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The Lexington project will generate 30 percent of the town’s electricity and savings on property taxes and energy will put $350,000 into the town’s coffers annually. Installation costs are folded into the long-term solar power purchase agreement the town signed with a private equity firm that specializes in renewables.

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Henry Poppe (Feb 02 2021 11:20AM) : The author answers questions that may be asked especially about why these solar farms are in Massachusetts of all places.
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Mark Monette (Feb 05 2021 2:40PM) : The article's focus on Massachusetts is interesting. It makes me wonder whether these policies are expandable beyond Massachusetts.
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Sam Fedor (Feb 05 2021 11:26AM) : A Profitable Motivator more

It’s no secret that renewable energy is a highly profitable sector for investment, but we oftentimes forget how little must be spent to collect this energy. The profit in comparison to overhead is monumental; and the sooner we realize it the better.

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Mark Sandeen helped found the Sustainable Lexington Committee in 2010 because he realized what a boon renewable energy could be for his town

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“The state had made it very clear that they are quite interested in people developing on brownfields and landfills,” says Sandeen, who leads both the volunteer committee and the board at the non-profit MassSolar. “Under Gov. (Deval) Patrick, the administration was sending a very strong signal that we will help you in whatever way we can.”

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Gaining site approval, signing contracts and selecting vendors took longer than expected—a frustrating three years—because natural gas pipelines cross the Lexington site and it also abuts Hanscom Air Force Base. Overall, siting solar projects is more expensive on brownfields than farmland because of higher costs for permitting, building and monitoring

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The entire 2.2 MW system is essentially a “virtual net metering project that allows you to spread out the flow of electricity” sold into the Eversource grid, Singer says.

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Unlike some other states, Massachusetts allows for an unlimited amount of meters to be included in landfill projects as long as they are part of the municipal load. So, they could include streetlights, schools, town offices, hockey rinks and firehouses, but not individual homes.

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2021 Milo Hohmann (Feb 05 2021 11:15AM) : Perhaps one day, this policy, or others like it, will be extended to all of the United States, so that we can begin converting landfills and other such areas to be green energy powerhouses.
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“The larger the system, the more load we are offsetting and the cost per megawatt goes down,” Singer notes. “You are offsetting load like it is a behind-the-meter system.”

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While the soon-to-launch Solar Massachusetts Renewable Target incentive program (SMART) has been much debated among advocates, Singer predicts that it, too will continue to give the state an edge in the adaptable use of solar.

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“It’s geared toward making brownfields, canopies, community solar and other pre-developed and smaller sites more mainstream,” he says about SMART. “Brightfields was an early adopter. As an industry, we need this new program to facilitate more solar.”

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2021 Parker Catten (Feb 09 2021 12:27AM) : While this is phenomenal for the purposes of this state specifically, I'm curious to see if this could work for other states. It seems specific to Massachusetts, but the ingenuity involved is something that's universal. We need to think in line with this
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Lisa Kasabyan (Feb 09 2021 10:25AM) : I think that perhaps we need a state that successfully uses solar on a really large scale in order to convince other states that this is something worth investing in and something that they should foster.
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DMU Timestamp: November 12, 2020 20:50

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