powering up landfill
On a barren mountain at the end of a wooded road, a team of electricians and engineers are giving new life to a dead zone where toxic smoke oozes from the grass --covered vents.
Along the slope ground of the old landfill site on Oliver Street, 18 years ago it was filled with a lot of sludge, domestic waste and industrial waste, and the contractor was installing 10,000 solar panels
The first of more than a dozen major projects in the state are designed to turn desolate dumps into renewable energy.
\"We think these projects have the potential to play a very big role in contributing to our goals,\" Kenneth L said . \"
National Environmental Protection Commissioner Kimmell hopes that many of the 500 closed landfill sites in Massachusetts will help the state achieve its goal of generating 20% of its electricity from renewable energy by 2020.
\"Landfill sites are attractive places for solar energy because they don\'t usually annoy anyone without trees, and they are large spaces.
\"Unlike wind power, wind power requires a large number of turbines that are usually considered by neighbors as unattractive and noisy, and the silence and static nature of solar projects means that they usually do not trigger opposition, especiallyThe 2.
The 2 MW project in Easthampton, which will generate enough electricity, equivalent to the electricity of about 600 households, and will save the city about $1 million in utilities over the next decade, from officials here to contractors seeking bids until they broke ground in less than two years last month.
But the experience of Pioneer Valley, a small city, suggests that even the most harmless renewable energy projects could be controversial.
The first obstacle is to change the zoning regulations of the city, allowing officials to build on the landfill, which is a hazardous waste pile covered by special synthetic liners and several feet of dirt, drainage pipes, vents and grass.
The city council approved zoning changes, but then neighbors of one of the city\'s two closed landfill sites --
The bigger one can provide more power and it is easier to connect to the grid
They expressed their opposition to installing solar panels there.
\"This is because of aesthetics,\" said Mayor Michael Tautznik . \".
\"It will be in their backyard and they don\'t want to see the solar panels.
\"After excluding better locations, the city sought bids at a more secluded landfill site on Oliver Street, where neighbors, while the objections were more moderate, over the past few months, many concerns were expressed at local officials and public meetings.
Neighbors say they are concerned about the sun\'s glare reflected into their homes, about the number of trees that must be removed, from landfill sites to magnets for young people who are committed to destruction, to the type of Poles to be installed, almost everything.
Susan Oparowski, 42, said: \"It\'s terrible to look . \" Her home is at the foot of the mountain and more mirrors can be seen --
Just like the trees in the backyard lose their leaves.
Like other neighbors, Jerry Lucie said he was \"gentle\" about the project \".
He worries 5,000.
The pound concrete blocks that anchor each solar cell array will pierce the lid of the landfill, causing toxic substances to leak into the groundwater or methane cloud.
He also believes that the project will generate relatively little electricity and is not worth paying for it.
\"Really, I would rather see this land exist as a country,\" he said . \".
\"Those of us who are most affected by this will not see any benefit.
But city officials and contractors say $9.
2 million the plant will be paid by contractor Borrego Solar Systems
And will save cash-
After budget cuts forced the city to limit its operations to Thursday days, the tense city was enough to re-hire police or other people who were fired or reopened to the town hall on Friday.
The city leased the land to San Diego for $1-
Headquartered at the contractor, in exchange, the contractor agreed to sell Easthampton power for 6 cents per kilowatt for the next 10 years or 1 year.
Three cents and three cents less than in recent years.
The mayor estimates that in addition to $1 million a year, the city will also save electricity costs.
Less than one-
Tenth of the annual utility bill
At the end of the contract, Tautznik said, the city could gain more benefits.
Borrego offered to sell the plant at a price that depreciated significantly, which could double the city\'s savings.
\"We want to prove that this is feasible --
\"Cities can adopt innovative green energy methods while saving money,\" Tautznik said . \" He added that he expects the project to start generating electricity in January.
Borrego makes money on contracts through electricity sales, federal taxes
The products it sells to banks, as well as the national renewable energy credit sold to utilities needed to purchase solar energy.
Officials at the company said there were many technical challenges in landfill construction.
Unlike the roofs or flat fields built by most solar projects, landfill sites, such as landfill sites on Eastampton slopes, have a thin layer of surface that often turns into mud in bad weather.
Settlement is a concern, and contractors cannot dig too deep due to the risk of piercing the landfill liner.
Therefore, special roads must be built to support tracking of building vehicles, solar panels must be set in large concrete blocks on the ground, and none of the solar panels can be in 10-
The radius of dozens of vents that allow methane to leak from landfill sites.
Based on their experience, Borrego officials said they wanted to build some of the other 11 renewable energy projects approved by landfill sites from situate to Pittsfield, in the next few years, it will provide enough electricity for about 8,000 households.
Some other proposals are pending state approval.
As the electrician recently installed one solar panel after another on this mud-raised aluminum array
Bill Perry, project manager at Borrego, pointed out the covered pile in Easthampton, all tilted 30 degrees south.
In different environments, the array will be perfectly aligned in a straight line, he said.
\"Aesthetics is not the top priority here,\" he said . \"
You can contact David Abel at dabel @ globe. com.
Follow him on Twitter @ davabel.