Former Rochester Landfill May Become Solar Farm

ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- For 43 years, the Emerson Street Landfill has sat vacant, rendered useless and toxic, but a portion of the 230 acre site has a bright future.

"The parcel was recently delisted from the New York inactive waste site, so we were able to offer it to developers," said Anne Spaulding, the city's energy and sustainability manager.

Developers who have one creation in mind: solar energy.

"We received nine proposals and went through a selection process and selected Solar Liberty," Spaulding said.

If the proposal gets the go ahead from the Rochester City Council, the Buffalo company will be tasked with creating, operating and maintaining a solar farm. We asked Solar Liberty's Vice President Nathan Rizzo to explain how it all works.

"We are looking to install a solar photovoltaic system," Rizzo said.

The image to the left includes what the solar farm could look like. It will be made up of more than 7,000 panels that will be ballasted to the ground.

"Ballasted meaning it will sit on top of the landfill, so it won't penetrate the ground," Rizzo explained. "It will be weighted down by concrete."

Rizzo said each year on average; the system will produce enough energy to power 300 homes. The city under a power purchase agreement with Solar Liberty will buy this electricity and use it to power a handful of municipal buildings. Rochester will then receive a credit from RG&E on those utility bills.

"If we are able to see economic savings from something while doing something good for the environment, it's just excellent," Rizzo said.

It's a savings that's estimated to be $2 million over the next 25 years.

The city council will vote on this proposed solar farm Tuesday. If all goes according to plan the site will be generating power by the end of next year.

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