Canton, Massachusetts officials decide to turn an old, capped town dump into the largest solar array in New England. The dump was capped twenty five years ago and was unused until last year when the town envisioned it as a green energy powerhouse. The array is expected to generate 5.6 megawatts of power as early as 2012 and will generate about $70 million in revenues and energy savings over the next 25 years.

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It turns out that landfills that have been covered are prime places to put solar arrays. Capped landfills tend to be raised and free of trees — the roots cause problems for the linings — they are stable enough to be built upon, and don’t have shadows from surrounding buildings or structures. “Once you cap and close them, they have a tendency to look like a mini-pyramid,” said Jeffrey Osuch, the executive secretary of Fairhaven, another town hoping to top its capped landfill with a solar array. “You don’t have any trees or building shadows.”

The solar array will be built by Southern Sky Renewable Energy, who will install 24,000 three-foot by five-foot solar panels. Southern Sky Managing Director Frank McMahon noted that the Canton project will be their first built on a capped landfill. The town of Canton and Southern Sky will be benefitting from Massachusett’s Solar Renewable Energy Certificates program which is helping to ensure that the state will meet its goal of having 250 megawatts of solar power installed by 2017.