Environmental services selected for solar feasibility on closed landfills

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are working together to provide technical assistance to assess the feasibility of developing solar energy projects on closed landfills. The City of Tucson applied to be part of the program and is one of 26 entities selected. The City submitted an application for technical assistance which will evaluate at least five of the City’s closed landfills.

The development of renewable energy has been a goal of the Tucson Mayor and City Council and the Environmental Services Department (ES). The City owns sixteen old landfills that comprise more than 1500 acres of land that cannot be easily redeveloped. Development on closed landfills poses some unique challenges such as land subsidence and landfill gas production as waste decomposes. Developing solar energy projects using these former landfills that would otherwise sit vacant can benefit the community and enable the City to work toward expansion of its sustainable energy portfolio.

The DOE and the EPA will provide technical assistance to the City to determine how to best build solar systems on the old landfills and obtain financing for future projects. No City monies will be spent on the project. It is anticipated that the study will be a year long process.

Bruce Plenk, City of Tucson Solar Energy Coordinator, stated "We are excited about this opportunity. This study will help our City prepare for solar development on some wonderful solar sites. These large, shade-free closed landfills are close to distribution lines and are a great resource we would like to develop if technically feasible. This study will help us zoom in on any additional preparation we need to do to move ahead."