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Concentration of CO2 in the Atmosphere

Derry and Londonderry, New Hampshire

Recycle “Waste” Lands
for Groundbreaking Solar Farms

Derry Cuts the Ribbon on Transfer Station Solar Trackers, while Londonderry Signs Lease for Historic Solar Project at Condemned Former Landfill

The ribbon cutting event for Derry’s solar farm took place May 15, 2018. (L-R) Erik Shifflett, Granite State Solar (GSS) co-owner, with Derry Town Councilor Josh Bourdon, Mike Fowler, Derry Director of Public Works and Alan Gauntt, GSS co-owner. Courtesy photo.

By Chris Gillespie

Two neighboring towns in southern New Hampshire are revitalizing pieces of town-owned land historically used for waste management by building solar PV arrays on the properties.

In Derry, ten ground-mounted tracking devices have been built by Granite State Solar at the town’s waste and recycling transfer station. Each tracking device holds twenty-four 360-watt solar panels. The array will yield 155,000 kilowatt hours per year and will power the transfer station as well as the nearby town wastewater facility.

Town officials hope the solar farm, which is visible from Interstate 93, will inspire other towns to embrace renewable forms of energy as plausible and cost-effective measures. Above all, Derry officials are looking forward to the financial benefits the solar trackers will bring to the town. The project was dedicated on May 15, 2018.

“We all want to see our taxes reduced, so going solar was a non-partisan no-brainer,” said Town Councilor and Vice Chairman of Derry’s Net-Zero Task Force, Joshua Bourdon. “These trackers are going to save Derry residents hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

After an anticipated $58,000 rebate, the transfer station solar project will have a gross cost of approximately $220,000. Over its twenty-five year warranty, the trackers will help the town of Derry save about $25,000 in electricity costs per year, equaling $500,000 over the course of the solar farm’s lifespan. These savings will be passed on to Derry taxpayers.

Once considered useless, the Auburn Road Landfill Superfund Site in Londonderry, NH will soon be home to the largest solar array in the Granite State. Photo by Chris Gillespie.

In addition to helping taxpayers, the solar trackers will help move Derry’s Net-Zero Task Force closer to their goal of reaching net-zero status for the town by 2025. Previously, the Task Force has overseen the upgrading of Derry’s town buildings’ windows, doors, insulating material and lighting fixtures in order to maximize energy efficiency. These measures, according to Bourdon, are just the beginning for Derry.

“The trackers at the transfer station are one small step. We will be coming back with a much, much larger project,” said Bourdon. “Our goal is to have the largest municipality-owned solar farm in the state.”

Meanwhile, in Londonderry, town officials recently signed a lease agreement with Granite Apollo to develop a 10MW AC solar project at the Auburn Road Landfill Superfund Site.

Located on approximately 200 acres of town-owned land off of Auburn Road, the project, named Superfund Solar, is projected to generate more than $200,000 in annual revenue for the town over the course of the twenty-five year lease (with an option to extend it to forty years). Granite Apollo is set to negotiate a power purchase agreement for sale of the power within ISO New England, the organization that oversees the region’s wholesale electricity marketplace.

The newly installed ten, ground-mounted solar trackers at Derry’s transfer station will yield 155,000kWh per year. Photo by Granite State Solar.

“The Superfund Solar Project will generate clean, renewable power at competitive prices to help Granite Staters save money on their power bills,” said Chris Stewart, founder and principal of Granite Apollo, in a recent press release. “Well-sited utility scale solar is a key part of New England’s energy future, and we are excited to work with the town of Londonderry on this project.”

For decades, the Auburn Road Landfill property was considered unusable by government agencies since being used as a town dump in the 1960s, when residents buried over a thousand drums of chemical waste, discarded tires and solid waste into the land. Nearly sixty years later, Granite Apollo’s 10MW array will become the largest solar array in the state of New Hampshire and generate enough electricity to power roughly 2,500 homes.

In a manner that’s similar to their neighbors in Derry, Londonderry officials hope that Superfund Solar will spur economic development in southern New Hampshire while simultaneously decreasing regional carbon emissions.

“This is a great opportunity for the town of Londonderry,” said Londonderry Town Manager Kevin Smith. “We are very happy to be working with Granite Apollo on what will be one of New Hampshire’s largest solar array projects to date. Over the last few years, Londonderry has been a leading municipality in promoting clean and efficient energy initiatives, with this latest solar project being another example of our commitment to New Hampshire’s clean tech future.”

Given that the Derry-Londonderry area is estimated to be the fastest growing area in the state by the U.S. Census, it seems that solar energy is poised to play a large role in the continued development of southern New Hampshire’s economy and infrastructure.

Chris Gillespie is a contributing writer for GET. He can be reached at chris@greenenergytimes.org.

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