Lockwood Hills landfill to become solar farm

Staff reports

Greenidge Generation will cap and seal ash landfill to create location for renewable energy, adding to current carbon-neutral Bitcoin operation.

The Lockwood Hills ash landfill on Swarthout Road in Torrey will be capped and redeveloped as a solar farm in Greenidge Generation's project plan.

DRESDEN – Greenidge Generation Holdings Inc. (Greenidge) announced July 29 that it will be investing profits from its carbon-neutral bitcoin mining operation in Dresden to expedite the closure of an existing, 40-year-old coal ash landfill in the Finger Lakes region and create a significant new solar farm at the site. 

The Lockwood Hills landfill in Torrey was acquired by Lockwood Hills LLC, a subsidiary of Greenidge, in 2014, and has been safely maintained by the company over the past seven years. During that period, the company ended the use of coal-fired power at its adjacent power generation facility.

The company intends to work with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to safely cap and close the landfill and relinquish its existing permit to operate the site. Greenidge will launch a Request for Proposals to identify the best option for creating a solar project across the 143-acre site that will produce up to 5 megawatts of power.

Greenidge announced in May that it was purchasing voluntary carbon offsets from a portfolio of U.S. greenhouse gas reduction projects to create the first fully carbon-neutral bitcoin mining operation in the United States. At the same time, Greenidge said it was actively exploring investing a portion of its mining profits in renewable energy projects in New York.

The 143 acre site was established as a coal ash landfill in 1979 for the Greenidge power plant, whose smoke stacks can be seen in the distance.

"Bitcoin mining at Greenidge is already a model for the industry in that we are advancing this emerging financial platform for people across the world in a manner that fully protects our environment and drives economic growth across Upstate New York," said Jeff Kirt, CEO of Greenidge. "Today, we’re announcing the next step; making more renewable energy a reality by leveraging bitcoin mining profits to fund the creation of a new solar farm at a landfill site we’re going to close well ahead of schedule.”  

Dale Irwin, President of Greenidge, said, “For those of us who grew up and still live right here in the Finger Lakes, the Lockwood Hills landfill has been a constant presence, overlooking Seneca Lake and the Village of Dresden, and something we always hoped would eventually not be needed. I am thrilled that the success of our clean bitcoin mining operation is not only creating great high-tech jobs for residents here, and supporting local businesses, but will now also facilitate the development of renewable energy at this old landfill site.” 

The Lockwood Landfill was initially constructed and permitted in 1979 to dispose of coal combustion residuals (CCRs) and other wastes generated by the power generation facility prior to Greenidge assuming ownership in 2014. Today, while Greenidge has ended the use of coal as a fuel source for its now natural-gas-fired operation, the Lockwood Landfill remains open and operational. It operates in strict compliance with two comprehensive New York State DEC permits; a Part 360 Solid Waste Management Permit and a State Pollutant Discharge Elimination System Permit. 

The leachate pond at the base of the landfill was cleaned and re-lined in a $1 million project in 2019.

In 2017 and 2018, upgrades to the stormwater and leachate management systems were completed by Lockwood Hills at a cost of over $1 million. In addition to ensuring that the site will no longer accept waste of any kind, the closure process will entail several steps, including site grading and the installation of a permanent engineered membrane to prevent erosion and water infiltration.