November 14, 2019
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Closed landfills have a bright future with solar energy at Sundog Solar

Community Author: Sarah Lozanova
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Sundog Solar | Contributed
Sundog Solar | Contributed

SEARSPORT — Sundog Solar is actively promoting solar farms on capped landfills in Maine. There are over 400 closed landfills in the state. The renewable energy production potential of these sites is exceptional.

These solar systems are often installed through Power Purchase Agreements, where a third-party owns the solar system and the local towns or municipalities purchase solar electricity for a discounted rate. Sundog Solar installed a 110-kW solar system for the town of Waldoboro Maine at the end of 2017 a capped landfill. The solar system is expected to save $380,000 over the life of the array, saving taxpayer dollars.

There were once more than 8,000 active landfills across the United States. Today, there are just over 3,000, according to the National Waste and Recycling Association. Closed landfills must adhere to federal laws and require ongoing maintenance, draining resources.

Solar is a rare option for the closed landfills in Maine. The Department of Environmental Protect has strict guidelines limiting the use of landfills but solar farms are allowed.

“There are few commercial development options for capped landfills and they provide no ongoing value to area residents,” said Danny Piper, co-owner of Sundog Solar. “Installing a solar farm is a win-win solution for communities and the environment. Instead of the landfill being an economic drain, it can be a source of revenue or even reduce operating expenses.”

“We’ve been very satisfied with the production from the solar system,” said Julie Keizer, town manager for the Town of Waldoboro. “The solar system has been producing clean energy for over a year and it is reducing the town’s energy expenses.”

Sundog Solar recently installed a 153-kW solar system for the town of Tremont on a capped landfill on Mount Desert Island in Maine. The town used to pay between $ 0.17 and $ 0.18 per kWh of electricity. They now pay $ 0.125 per kWh for solar electricity, resulting in instant savings.

“The Tremont landfill is the first landfill to be developed in Emera territory and is currently the largest solar system on Mount Desert Island,” said Chris Saunders, town manager for the Town of Tremont. “The new solar array will provide clean power for most of the municipal properties in Tremont for many years.”  

Given the restrictions placed on landfills, permitting is required. “Sundog Solar has been working closely with the Department of Environmental Protection to develop solar arrays on closed landfills,” said Chuck Piper, co-owner of Sundog Solar. “The solar panels do not disturb the protective clay cap thus making them the perfect location for a solar energy system.”

About Sundog Solar

Sundog Solar was founded in 2009 to make solar energy affordable and available throughout Maine. The company has since installed hundreds of solar systems for homes, farms, retailers, non-profits, auto dealers, schools and municipalities. The Sundog Solar team includes licensed electricians and NABCEP-certified solar installers.