Haverhill Council Approves Solar Farm at Old City Landfill; Site Still Requires Capping

Haverhill Mayor James J. Fiorentini and Orlando Pacheco, energy adviser, rolled out Haverhill’s first program in 2015. (WHAV News file photograph.)

Haverhill is expected to receive about $3 million over 20 years in lease payments and reduced energy costs from a solar developer using the city’s long-closed Old Groveland Road landfill.

Mayor James J. Fiorentini said Keasarge Energy will convert the northern portion of the landfill into a solar farm. Fiorentini won approval from the Haverhill City Council to enter into lease and electricity agreements with Keasarge Energy that will net Haverhill approximately $3 million over the next 20 years. That figure, however, is not as rosy as it sounds. Orlando Pacheco, Haverhill’s energy adviser, explained that preparing the land for the solar array will not be inexpensive.

“Assuming the cost of capping the landfill, then I would say it’s a net loss because I think capping the landfill is in the $6 million range,” he said.

Keasarge is the second company to enter into talks with the city. The first, Missouri-based SunEdison, declared bankruptcy in April 2016 and backed out of the deal reached in 2015. Councilors were first briefed on Kearsarge’s alternative proposal more than a year ago.

The city’s 71-acre Old Groveland Road began accepting industrial wastes in the 1940s, added residential trash in the 1960s and closed in 1981. The site, near the Merrimack River, has been listed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as a Superfund cleanup site.

Fiorentini said the lease and payment in lieu of taxes agreements with Keasarge are worth about $2.2 million for the city, with another roughly $800,000 coming from electricity cost savings over the next 20 years. According to the proposed “power purchase” agreement between the city and Keasarge, the city will buy electricity produced at the solar farm for an estimated savings of $43,000 per year. It was noted, however

Haverhill co-owns the property with Larfarge Holcim, the company that acquired Aggregate Industries. Larfarge will also receive about $1 million in lease payments over 20 years.

Pacheco said construction of the solar farm is expected to begin within the next 60 to 90 days and take about four months to complete.

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