PUTNEY — A new solar array on an old landfill is just a couple of regulatory hurdles away from installation.
“We’re just completing our brownfield work and environmental assessment,” said Martha Staskus, chief development officer for Norwich Solar, which recently received a certificate of public good for its Green Acres solar array on a former wastepaper landfill on River Road.
Once that work is done, said Staskus, Norwich will need to get approval from the Agency of Natural Resources that the site is safe to build on.
“It’s a 20-acre site, but only about two acres are capped landfill,” said Staskus.
The landfill itself, which was capped more than 20 years ago, will remain untouched. The 500-kilowatt array will be installed on five acres just south of the landfill on a south facing slope along the Connecticut River.
The property is on the south side of Interstate 91.
Staskus said in 2020, APC Paper Company, the parent company of Putney Paper, which established the landfill for paper sludge, approached Norwich Solar about purchasing the property for a solar array.
APC also sold a smaller parcel, known as the Blood Farm on the north side of Interstate 91, to Norwich, which is setting up a smaller 150 kilowatt array on about two acres.
Once the arrays are functional, Norwich Solar will sell them to investors who will be responsible for finding customers for the electricity.
This will be Norwich Solar’s second large solar array in Southern Vermont. Last July, it received a CPG for a 500 kilowatt array on Back Westminster Road in Westminster. In 2017, it set up a smaller, 45 kilowatt array at the Colonial House Inn in Weston.
Most of its other projects are in Central Vermont, said Staskus, and include arrays for the town of Windsor and its schools, the Weathersfield School, Mt. Ascutney Hospital, and King Arthur Bakery. It also built arrays in New Hampshire, for the town of Newport, Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center and the Dublin School.
Staskus said Norwich Solar is always looking for locations for solar arrays and is also often approached by landowners and businesses who’d like to lease or sell property for an array.
“When people call and say, ‘I want to make a difference,’ it’s a good thing,” she said. “It’s a socially responsible action that they can take.”