What good is a former landfill that just sits there, performing no useful function and generating no revenue?
No good at all. Yes, there are a few municipal landfills that have been covered with topsoil and turned into parks, but people may be leery of using them, knowing what lies beneath the surface. And of course a park is generally an expense, not a source of income. There are also landfills like Mount Trashmore, along Interstate 91 in Hartford, that have been capped only after growing too tall to be of much use.
That’s why the plan to turn Wallingford’s former landfill into a “solar farm” makes sense. A new agreement will allow development company Lendlease USA to connect a proposed 20-megawatt solar-power facility to the town Electric Division’s power grid, and thus to utility companies Eversource Energy and United Illuminating.
Solar panels, to be installed on three contiguous parcels of land totaling over 150 acres in the vicinity of 100 Pent Road, will feed energy into the grid without emitting greenhouse gases.
Once all the details are worked out, the length of the agreement is “effectively open ended,” according to town Public Utilities Director Richard Hendershot. Lendlease will pay the Electric Division fees of $3,000 a month, which will escalate by 2.5 percent each year.
Other municipalities, including Meriden and Southington, have installed solar panels on public land (although not without controversy), and “solar farms” have sprung up on private land as well.
This strikes us as a win-win-win-win: more power, which we need, but without burning limited supplies of fossil fuels and without adding to air pollution or undesirable climate change.
This is one area where private businesses are working with local and state government to the general benefit. Let’s hope it continues.