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Superfund Landfill Site Going Solar in South Carolina

A Vermont-based solar photovoltaic firm will build a new energy farm on a former South Carolina landfill and Superfund site. 

The firm, groSolar, and its partners, Duke Energy and ReGenesis will deliver renewable energy to the residents of Spartanburg, S.C., from the former Arkwright Landfill site. The project is part of a Clinton Global Initiative Commitment to Action.

“ReGenesis, groSolar, and Duke Energy were very pleased to have had our proposed project awarded a ‘Call to Action’ at the recent Clinton Global Initiative,” says Maribeth Sawchuk, director of marketing and communication for groSolar based in White River Junction, Vt. “The event provided the project team an opportunity to present our as a collaborative model and brainstorm with other community engagement initiatives from across the country.”

This project will allow the City of Spartanburg to create a solar power facility on the former 35-acre toxic waste site. The purpose of the Arkwright Landfill Solar Project is to reuse a former Superfund site with no alternative development potential to generate sufficient electricity to power the equivalent of 500 homes in the community of Spartanburg, S.C.

“groSolar has not yet finalized the layout of the solar project. However, we anticipate that the solar farm will cover the majority of the 30-acre area; an area undevelopable to any other type of traditional infrastructure,” says Sawchuck. “The clean energy produced is the equivalent to removing about 4,000 tons of CO2 from the environment,” says Sawchuk.

In addition to environmental benefits, groSolar anticipates the creation of roughly 50 construction jobs over the first year as the solar power facility is built.

“The project team is currently in the process of seeking an additional $2.5 million in necessary funding. Provided the team is successful, we hope to have the project up and running by the end of 2017,” says Sawchuk.

The energy will be used to serve all Duke Energy customers in South Carolina, says Randy Wheeless, spokesman for Charlotte, N.C.-based Duke Energy.

“We are working toward a power purchase agreement with groSolar and hope the project continues to move forward. Solar in South Carolina has the potential to make great strides in the future. Innovative projects like this will help,” he says. “Duke Energy has a long history of working with energy developers to advance new technologies and unique projects that will benefit our customers.”

The Arkwright Landfill project is a culmination of years of collaboration between ReGenesis, MDB, Inc., EPA Region 4, Duke Energy, groSolar, South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, and Solvay USA, Inc.

According to Sawchuk, the Arkwright Landfill opened in 1958 and was previously used as a waste facility for the surrounding community and hospital. It became overgrown and hazardous following its abandonment in 1973.

ReGenesis, the Department of Health and Environmental Control, and the Environmental Protection Agency worked in collaboration to have the landfill designated as a Superfund site, which resulted in the funding necessary to close and cap the landfill.

Today, the 30-acre site has been capped with two feet of dirt and a polyurethane liner.

“ReGenesis and the City of Spartanburg secure funding for site cleanup in 1998; the cleanup and capping of the landfill was complete in 2014 at a cost of $9.5 million,” she says. “There are more than 1,300 Superfund sites across the United States. These sites are undevelopable to more traditional infrastructure and represent an opportunity for solar energy reuse land in an environmentally friendly and productive manner. ReGenesis, groSolar, and Duke Energy hope that the redevelopment of the Arkwright landfill can serve as a model for other communities looking to make a great financial and environmental investment.”

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