Former landfill in Rhode Island is transformed into community solar project with 6,000 panels powering 509 households

New Jersey — Nautilus Solar and ISM Solar Development celebrated the opening of a 3.43MW community solar project sited on a remediated EPA superfund site.

Located in Cranston, Rhode Island, the project represents the transformation a former environmental liability into an environmental asset, providing clean energy to 509 Rhode Island households that reside in National Grid’s territory.

“Today, we are celebrating the transformation of a brownfield into a clean, renewable energy source, while making the benefits of solar power available to more Rhode Islanders,” said Governor Dan McKee at a ribbon-cutting ceremony yesterday alongside Speaker of the House Joe Shekarchi, State Representative Brandon Potter, Secretary of Commerce Stefan Pryor, and community partners. “The state’s community solar program allows National Grid customers, who want to reduce carbon emissions but who cannot install solar panels on their own homes, to subscribe to a local solar project and receive a discount on their electric bills. This locally constructed community solar project provides environmental and economic benefits and is a win-win for the State of Rhode Island and its constituents and I congratulate ISM Solar, Watershed Geo and Nautilus Solar.”

The community solar project was developed by ISM Solar, and Nautilus serves as the owner-operator responsible for the project management, long-term asset management, and maintenance services for the projects.

“This community solar project represents the importance of partnership between industry, the State of Rhode Island, and the local community. It’s exciting to continue the great work with ISM Solar, and we are proud to be the energy partner of choice in Rhode Island,” said Eric Paul, Executive Director of Origination at Nautilus Solar. “Together with our other community solar projects in the State, we are able to provide equitable, affordable access to clean, solar electricity to over 2,500 Rhode Islanders,” added Eric LaMora, Community Solar Director.

Installing community solar projects on capped landfills has proven an effective way to transform typically unused space into a renewable energy source. The project is uniquely built on ClosureTurf®, a patented brownfield closure system designed to withstand supporting 9,000 solar panels attached to a racking system and held down by over 60,000 ballast blocks to protect the landfill cap. Engineered by Watershed Geosynthetics, an environmental solutions company, this innovative material is specifically designed to address and solve soil erosion, slope integrity, gas emission, installation and maintenance cost control, EPA regulation compliance, and longevity of structure and appearance.

“We are honored to be a part of this innovative and industry-changing project. Seeing our closure and solar integration technologies become a reality and play a role in turning a liability into a green energy asset for the community is very exciting.” said Mike Ayers, CEO of Watershed Geo. “Our technologies coupled with ISM Solar’s development capabilities is a great partnership and an example of execution in creating beneficial reuse of land on a typically unusable space. As more significance is placed on environmental values and goals, these types of projects will become critical to communities at large.”

The developers partner closely with communities to produce local tax revenue, bring new job opportunities, and deliver energy savings to Rhode Islanders. In fact, the Cranston community solar project provides a direct benefit to the local Rhode Island economy through the creation of over 7,000 hours and 124 worker-days of construction jobs, in addition to supporting 20-25 full-time positions for ongoing electrical and site vegetation management crews.

Plus, community solar represents the democratization of solar energy. Nautilus’s community solar projects will provide the environmental equivalent to the carbon replacement of 3,830 acres of US forests and the annual carbon produced from 680 cars.

“It has been a pleasure working with the City of Cranston, National Grid, the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management, Office of Energy Resources, and the Capuano Family (landowner) to create this important green energy resource,” said Greg Lucini, CEO of ISM Solar. “In addition, this project was awarded a Rhode Island Commerce Renewable Energy Fund (REF) Brownfield Grant which helped provide necessary development capital.”


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