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County of Henrico

Solar panel system proposed for two-acre site at closed Springfield Road Landfill

Under a proposal set for consideration by the Board of Supervisors, BrightSuite, a subsidiary of Dominion Energy, would design, install and maintain a 349-kilowatt solar photovoltaic system on about 2 acres at the closed Springfield Road Landfill, 10600 Fords Country Lane in western Henrico.

Trevor Dickerson

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Henrico County is poised to become the first locality in the region and one of the first in Virginia to have solar panels installed at a closed landfill, which would generate reduced-cost, renewable energy to power a nearby sewage pump station.

Under a proposal set for consideration by the Board of Supervisors, BrightSuite, a subsidiary of Dominion Energy, would design, install and maintain a 349-kilowatt solar photovoltaic system on about 2 acres at the closed Springfield Road Landfill, 10600 Fords Country Lane in western Henrico.

In addition to leasing the site for $1 per year, Henrico would purchase the electricity generated by the solar array to provide up to 100% of the power needed to operate the Allen’s Branch Sewage Pump Station. By allowing the county to receive a lower rate, the arrangement would save taxpayers an estimated $600,000 to $700,000 on electricity costs over the 30-year lease term. If approved, the system would likely become operational by spring 2025.

“Installing solar panels at the closed Springfield Road Landfill makes sense in every respect,” said Supervisor Tommy M. Branin, whose Three Chopt District includes the landfill. “It benefits the environment by capturing renewable energy from the sun and reducing our dependence on fossil fuels. It creates a good use for land that cannot be developed. It also serves taxpayers, because we’ll pay nothing to build or operate the system, and we’ll buy electricity at a discount. I applaud BrightSuite for partnering with us to advance Henrico’s Go Green initiative while also continuing to protect the landfill’s liner systems and environment.”

At the Board of Supervisors retreat last January, Branin urged officials with the county and Dominion Energy to investigate ways to use the Springfield Road Landfill as a potential site for solar panels. The proposed partnership would be Dominion Energy’s first landfill project with a locality in the region. While solar panel systems have been installed at capped landfills in other states, officials said they are aware of only several other places in Virginia – including in Fairfax and Albemarle counties – where solar panels may be placed at a landfill.

“Henrico’s proposed agreement with BrightSuite underscores our county’s commitment to being a leader on the environment,” County Manager John A. Vithoulkas said. “I applaud the Board of Supervisors for continuing to challenge and inspire us to innovate and do more in this realm. Solar power is a significant part of our future, and it delivers great value for our taxpayers.”

“We are excited to partner with Henrico County on this innovative solar project at the Springfield Road Landfill, the first of its kind in the region between a locality and Dominion Energy,” said Joe Woomer, Dominion Energy’s vice president of new business and customer solutions. “This project closely aligns with Dominion Energy’s vision of becoming the most sustainable energy company in the country, while helping the county grow its use of renewable energy and enhance its environmental stewardship.”

Dominion Energy, through BrightSuite, provides sustainable energy solutions for homes and businesses. With nearly 25 megawatts of rooftop and ground-mounted solar systems in operation, BrightSuite is one of the top solar providers in the Commonwealth.

The 191-acre Springfield Road Landfill operated as a municipal landfill from the late 1960s to 2014. It currently serves as one of the county’s two public use areas, which receive household and yard waste as well as recyclables for transport offsite. Since 2010, a four-megawatt generator has captured methane gas produced by the landfill and converted it into electricity that is exported to the utility grid for sale.

The Springfield Road Landfill would become Henrico’s seventh county-owned site with a solar photovoltaic system. Through the county’s partnership with BrightSuite, rooftop solar systems have been installed at the Public Safety Building, Highland Springs High School, Holladay Elementary School and J.R. Tucker High School. The county also has solar systems at the Libbie Mill Library and Mental Health East Center.

Similar systems are planned at the Division of Recreation & Parks’ administration building, Fairfield Area Library and five schools: Glen Allen High, Holman Middle, Colonial Trail Elementary, Harvie Elementary and Kaechele Elementary. In addition, a ground-mounted system is under design for the James River Juvenile Detention Center campus. With each system, Henrico pays no capital or ongoing maintenance costs, and it buys electricity at negotiated rates that are competitive with those available through utility grid systems.

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Trevor Dickerson is the Editor and Co-Founder of RVAHub.