TYNGSBOROUGH, Mass. – With the symbolic flip of a switch, clean, green electric power began flowing today from a 3.5-megawatt (MW) solar array built by non-profit Citizens Energy Corporation atop a capped Superfund site straddling the town lines of Dunstable and Tyngsborough.
Citizens Energy Chairman Joseph P. Kennedy II joined town officials, as well as representatives of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, to mark the start of the project.
“It’s remarkable that on a hill where chemical sludge, metal toxins, and dirt and trash once mixed in a noxious cocktail, we can stand here today and instead see these 10,000 panels soak up the energy of the sun,” said the former congressman, who praised the team mentality of elected town officials, along with state and federal agencies, as critical to the project’s success. “This is what it’s all about,” he added, “ a win for the towns, the environment and the buyers of this renewable energy.”
Electricity from the array will bring close to $1 million in tax payments to the two towns over 20 years, as well as $3 million in annual savings to four public-entity customers buying the power.
“I remember coming to the dump with my dad, never realizing what was going on,” said Tyngsborough Selectman Rick Reault. “After its close, the Charles George Landfill was a vacant, blighted Superfund site for over 30 years. Through a collaboration with Citizens Energy Corporation and the Towns of Dunstable and Tyngsborough, we were able to turn this property into a renewable energy resource that produces clean power, energy savings, and tax revenues. We are grateful to Citizens Energy for making this project possible through their considerable investment in this location.”
“This site, once a toxic element in our environment has been cleaned-up and re-used as a green energy site that produces income, outside of the residential tax base, for the communities,” said Dunstable Selectboard Chair Walter Alterisio.
Built on 19 acres of an EPA Superfund site, the 10,000-panel, ground-mounted solar array sits above the capped and treated Charles George industrial waste dump that required over $70 million in remediation work since 1983 to protect the public and environment. The completion of the $9.2-million solar array begins a new chapter for this unproductive land and stands as a testament to the transformative potential of renewable energy.
“EPA is very proud to be part of this redevelopment project at the Charles George Landfill Superfund site,” said EPA Acting Deputy Regional Administrator Ken Moraff, who called the project “poetic justice” for transforming a waste dump into a renewable energy asset. “Not only is the property cleaned up, but it has been returned to productive re-use that benefits the community.”
“Massachusetts leads the nation when it comes to placing renewable energy on brownfield sites, producing more than 58 megawatts of energy to date,” said Assistant Commissioner Paul Locke from the Bureau of Waste Site Cleanup at the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection. “This is a great example of the collaboration between municipalities and state and federal agencies to ensure that the environment and public health are protected, while also responsibly re-developing once-contaminated sites.”
The project will produce 4.6 million kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity annually, enough to power 460 New England homes and prevent the release of 3,500 tons of carbon dioxide from non-renewable power plants. The public customers are saving about 20% on their electric bills annually, even as the project powers Massachusetts towards its goals to lower emissions and increase clean energy sources to 80% of our electric supply by 2050.
“This project is part of the green revolution,” said Kennedy, “that not only preserves our plant, but sustains our economy. Solar industry jobs are growing 17 times faster than other U.S. jobs—the most dynamic new-job growth in the country.”
Citizens Solar, a division of Citizens Energy, has completed 30 solar projects to date, with a robust pipeline of projects under development. The completed projects, with a total value of $225 million, represent 86.1 MW of solar capacity, and produce enough electricity to offset 89,000 tons of carbon annually.
Citizens Energy Corporation (www.citizensenergy.com) is a Boston-based non-profit founded by former Congressman Joseph P. Kennedy II. Under Kennedy’s leadership as chairman and president, Citizens Energy has compiled a 38-year history of channeling revenues from successful energy ventures to programs that help the poor. Citizens Solar is a major developer of utility-scale solar arrays that specializes in building solar farms on capped and closed landfills and other underused land parcels.