SWACO has entered into an agreement with BQ Energy Development, LLC, to lease the approximately 173-acre property that once served as Franklin County’s sanitary landfill between Jackson Pike and I-71 in Grove City, Ohio. The property will be put back into productive re-use as a solar energy facility. BQ Energy’s intent is to develop, build and operate a solar energy facility once the purchase agreements of the renewable energy are committed to underwrite the project.
At its meeting in June, the SWACO Board of Trustees approved a contract with Columbus Solar Park LLC to design, build, operate and maintain a solar facility on the former Model Landfill. Columbus Solar Park is an affiliate of BQ Energy Development, LLC., a New York company that specializes in developing wind and solar projects on closed community landfills and other brownfield sites.
As part of the contract, Columbus Solar Park has up to three years to complete the development and construction of a solar facility. Once the solar farm is built, Columbus Solar Park will operate the facility and sell the electricity, which will be available to local entities to purchase. SWACO will receive an escalating rental payment per megawatt of installed electricity capacity. The lease runs approximately 25 years with an option to extend it with mutual consent.
“This innovative partnership with BQ Energy exemplifies what SWACO and Central Ohio are all about,” said SWACO Executive Director Ty Marsh. “Together we are turning waste into resources by transforming an otherwise unusable piece of property into an economic engine that will generate jobs and revenue for this community while creating a visible representation of the Columbus Region’s commitment to clean, renewable energy.”
The Model Landfill site served as the county’s sanitary landfill from 1967 to 1985. SWACO began managing the closed landfill in 1987, eventually opening the Phoenix Links Golf Course atop of it in 2000. In 2015, the golf course was closed because of difficulty finding an operator. To this day, SWACO remains responsible for the annual costs to maintain the closed landfill and its underground piping system.
With a desire to repurpose the land to benefit all of Franklin County, SWACO conducted a land-use study last year to determine what type of development – if any – the site could accommodate. The results indicated that it’s well suited for a solar energy project. “Solar is a perfect option because it meets our sustainability goals and it should generate more than enough revenue to cover the nearly $400,000 cost to maintain the site each year,” SWACO’s Operations Director Scott Perry.
Beyond the significant economic benefits of a solar array, Director Perry noted other potential benefits. “A solar field would not only generate revenue and make the site self-sustaining, it also would reflect central Ohio’s innovative culture, commitment to environmental sustainability and serve as an educational tool to teach children and adults in central Ohio about the benefits of renewable energy.”
Paul Curran, Managing Director of BQ Energy Development, LLC commented, “We applaud the leadership and vision of SWACO as they transform a current liability into a long-term environmentally positive asset for the community. When constructed this will be one of the largest solar arrays on a landfill in the country providing clean, renewable electricity for decades to come.”
SWACO will use any additional revenue from the solar facility to offset its own operating expenses, develop more educational programming, add to central Ohio’s existing recycling and composting infrastructure, and/or keep the fees low for haulers that deliver waste to the landfill.