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Power is now flowing from Brooklyn landfill solar farm

September 11, 2018

Power is now flowing from Brooklyn landfill solar farm

CLEVELAND, Ohio — Construction is finished and power is now flowing from a $10 million solar array at the closed Brooklyn landfill, which Cuyahoga County officials have called a first-of-its-kind project in the state.

Commercial operations at the site were scheduled to begin Sept. 1, county officials announced this week. That comes after crews conducted tests on the solar panels and circuits throughout the month of August, Cuyahoga County Director of Sustainability Mike Foley said.  

The four-megawatt solar array consists of 35,520 panels and was built by Columbus-based IGS Solar on about 17 acres of the closed 75-acre landfill on Memphis Avenue. Cleveland Public Power, owned by the city of Cleveland, built a transmission line that carries power from the array to a nearby electric substation.

Cuyahoga County has agreed to buy the generated electricity from CPP to help power its 16 commercial buildings. The solar array will power about 5 percent of the county buildings’ electricity needs.

The project allows the county to save up to $3 million on utility bills over the next 25 years. It also allows some Brooklyn residents to choose between CPP and FirstEnergy as their electric provider, and enables Brooklyn to buy CPP power for its city-owned buildings.

About $7.8 million of the $10 million project is funded by the county. The county has the option to buy the system from IGS Solar after 10 years.

The method by which the array was constructed and installed makes it a unique project in Ohio, according to Foley. Due to Ohio Environmental Protection Agency rules that limit extensive below-surface work on contaminated and capped landfills, planners used a rack system atop concrete blocks rather than driving steel posts into the ground, according to a news release.

County Executive Armond Budish praised the project as one that saves money and provides economic and environmental benefits for the region.

“Our county is committed to more projects like this one. The solar landfill installation, which is one of the largest in the State of Ohio, will reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and develop our clean energy economy into the future,” Budish said in the release. “It is crucial that local governments take action to help solve our global issue – climate change.”

FirstEnergy’s Cleveland Electric Illuminating Co. sued Cleveland and CPP in May over the project. CEI first argued that CPP’s work on the transmission line was done in an unsafe manner, then later amended their complaint to argue that CPP violated the law by trying to distribute electricity outside the city’s borders.

In July, the county joined in the lawsuit to defend the project and protect its investment. The county believes that CPP is not violating the law, Foley has said. The trial is slated to begin Dec. 10.
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