Town of Tonawanda looking to turn retired landfill into a solar farm

Local News

It’s what you might call a win-win for the Town of Tonawanda and the environment.

Once a landfill is retired, they are mostly capped, grass is planted on top, and it just takes up space.

But the Town of Tonawanda is turning their old landfill into a source of renewable energy, a solar farm.

The old landfill along the northern edge of Tonawanda has been inactive for 30 years.

It also contains spent uranium from the Manhattan Project in World War II, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is removing much of the radioactive waste.

But on the other end of the landfill, Solar Liberty is working on a joint project with the town to install a solar farm, more than 8,500 solar panels, similar to this solar array near Rochester.

The town gets the power at a rate lower than what National Grid charges.

“We produce the power and then we will sell our power to the Town of Tonawanda at a lesser rate than the credit that the utility company will provide,” Nathan Rizzo, Solar Liberty VP said. 

Turning what would have otherwise been useless property into a productive, 10-acre solar farm is a win for Solar Liberty and the Town of Tonawanda, although the town still has work to do, once the Army Corps finishes removing the radioactive waste.

The landfill still has to be capped.

Town engineer James Jones added, “It has two feet of clay soil, and then another 6 inches of topsoil on top of that, and then we just have a vegetative cover for stormwater management.”

Nathan Rizzo expects to start construction on the solar farm in about 6 weeks and have the power flowing by the end of the year.

Officials estimate the solar project will cut the town’s electric bill by about $60,000 in the first year and gradually grow after that.

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