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Staten Island will host city’s largest solar power facility – at former Freshkills Landfill  

Molinaro said it's just a start to the clean energy at Freshkills. "I'm certain that eventually we'll have some windmills up there," he said.

Credit:  By Jillian Jorgensen/Staten Island Advance | November 25, 2013 | www.silive.com ~~

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. – What was once the world’s largest landfill will become the home to the city’s largest solar energy facility, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced Monday.

“It’s fitting that this site, long associated with the most stubborn challenges of urban development, will now be a shining example of cutting-edge solutions,” Bloomberg said at Freshkills Park, formerly the city’s garbage dump.

The solar panels will be installed and operated by Sun Edison, at no cost to the city. The city will earn money from the project through a leasing agreement that is still being negotiated – and business owners in the city will be able to get a green energy credit thanks to their installation.

“The solar panels Sun Edison will install on the site will be able to produce up to 10 megawatts of energy, and that’s enough to power 2,000 homes,” Bloomberg said.

The energy will be fed back into Con Edison’s grid system, so it won’t go to specific homeowners but will help power the entire city.

Sun Edison was selected after bidding to lease 47 acres of the park, and will install 30,000 to 35,000 high-efficiency solar panels on the site.

General Manager Attila Toth praised the city for their forward-thinking approach.

“This is the largest city in the nation and the largest city is developing the largest brownfield to park conversion site,” Toth said. “This is a very innovative solution and this kind of thinking does not happen in every city around the nation.”

Toth said the plant would employ more than 100 workers when it’s up and running in 2016.

The city already captures methane gas created underground – enough to heat 22,000 homes – at the site and sells it to National Grid for about $3 million a year.

Among those who have long been pressing for renewable energy at Freshkills is Borough President James Molinaro.

“Who knew that he would be a tree-hugger when he was elected?” Bloomberg joked. “But it runs out he has been very environmentally conscious and has really done a great job for the people of Staten Island.”

Molinaro called it an historic day, and recalled asking the Port Authority for $500,000 to study renewable energy at the site shortly after the landfill closed in 2001.

“I’m glad to say today we will be getting energy from the landfill,” Molinaro said. “We’ll be turning something which was a disaster into a benefit for the people of Staten Island, and for the environment.”

Molinaro said it’s just a start to the clean energy at Freshkills. “I’m certain that eventually we’ll have some windmills up there,” he said.

Parks Commissioner Veronica White said all the efforts underway at the landfill-turned-park have been a collaboration.

“It’s been a partnership, especially with the sanitation department,” she said. “All the sciene, and I have to say much of the hard work, is done by (Sanitation Commissioner) John Doherty and his team. The Parks, we get to do the pretty part on top.”

Doherty recalled that the land was originally a marsh before becoming a landfill in 1948. Now it’s transitioning back to its former natural beauty.

“It’s another step forward today when the mayor announced solar energy coming to this landfill to provide a more sustainable area out here in Staten Island – and one we can all be very proud of,” he said.

Bloomberg also outlined all the city’s done to turn the site into a park – pointing out that it was likely the only time his administration brought goats on the job, to munch on invasive plant species. Wetlands have been restored, and next week, the city will take another major step in its 25-year plan for the park.

“Next month we intend to formally apply to map the site as parkland,” Bloomberg said. “Once that application is submitted to City Planning, we can begin to realize the conversion of another 1,500 acres of the site into parkland.”

When all 2,200 acres of the site are done, it’ll be the largest new park in New York City in 100 years – and will bring the citywide total acreage of parkland to more than 30,000.

Source:  By Jillian Jorgensen/Staten Island Advance | November 25, 2013 | www.silive.com

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