Old landfills to become new solar farms

Staff Writer
The Chronicle Express
A landfill solar project owned by BQ Energy in Beacon NY.

Yates County approves agreement for solar farms on Torrey and Potter landfills

Yates County and BQ Energy Development signed a 35-year land lease for the construction of solar farms on two county-owned closed landfills. The two capped landfill properties, located on Long Point Road in the town of Torrey and on Hagerty Road in the Town of Potter, will allow for the installation of up to 37 MW of solar photovoltaic arrays on the surface of the landfills. 

BQ Energy was selected as the result of a 2019 Request for Proposal issued by Yates County based upon both economic benefit and overall qualifications and approach to development of the two projects. Now that the Lease has been signed and approved by the Yates County Legislature, BQ Energy will begin to finalize design work, begin electrical interconnection studies with NYSEG, and also begin to consult with the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation regarding permit matters.

Each site will require normal appropriate coordination with the towns and communities. The solar project designs will involve the use of above ground ballast block foundations to maintain the environmental integrity of the capped landfills.

The projects could operate by late 2021 and combined would be among the largest installations of solar energy on landfill properties in New York. Once the full build out of the projects is completed, Yates County would receive almost $200,000 in annual rent plus additional benefits in reduced price electric power sales.

Commenting on the projects, Yates County Administrator Winona Flynn indicates “Yates County is thrilled to have this come to fruition. Joe Reed, our Superintendent of Buildings and Grounds began the investigation of the feasibility of solar facilities on County landfills over a year and a half ago. The experience and professionalism that BQ Energy has exhibited throughout this process made them the most logical choice for us. The revenue and savings benefit of this project to our County is substantial.”

Yates County Legislator and Chair of Public Works, Dan Banach adds “This is a great use of land that was deemed non-usable for years and we were able to turn it into something so positive for our County.”

The Torrey landfill, which operated between 1972 and 1984 under the supervision of Yates County, was designated a state Superfund site in 1987 due to high levels of toxic substances released in the groundwater and surface water, including the metals barium and iron, and the carcinogens carbon tetrachloride and 1, 2-dichloroethane. The landfill was capped and a pollution control system was installed in 1998 that continues to operate under DEC oversight. 

In 2009, 50 businesses and other entities were identified as having sent hazardous waste to the Torrey landfill. A settlement of $750,000 to recover clean-up costs was approved by in U.S. District Court Jan. 16. 

“Yates County deserves a great deal of credit for having the vision to initiate this development” added Jim Falsetti, Director of BQ Energy Development. “These landfill properties have been large dead sites for decades. By proactively seeking to move these long-term environmentally friendly projects forward, Yates County will bring both economic and environmental benefits to the community for decades to come. BQ Energy has safely constructed and operated many landfill solar projects in New York State, and we look forward to working with the Yates County communities on these exciting and innovative projects.” 

BQ Energy, located in Wappinger Falls, has sited solar energy facilities on landfills and brownfields at multiple locations around New York. “Such installations beneficially reuse land which may have limited alternative use, but which often have good electrical infrastructure,” according to a description of their projects on the company’s website.

BQ Energy manages all the required permitting, design, financing procurement, equipment selection, construction, commissioning, and operation.

Includes reporting by Gwen Chamberlain.