GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The city of Grand Rapids is moving forward with a plan to install solar panels at the old Butterworth Landfill site.
The landfill closed in the early 1970s, and the contamination makes it unsuitable for most structures to be built on the property.
The city says the project could provide up to 16.5 megawatts of electricity. That amount would be enough to power more than 3,700 homes each year, according to Alison Waske Sutter, the sustainability and strategy officer for the city of Grand Rapids.
“There’s a 4-foot cap that has been installed, and then there are some monitoring wells around the perimeter. And so one of the main obstacles to having any development there is you cannot in any way penetrate that cap,” Waske Sutter said.
The city’s office of sustainability says only a portion of the 190 acres is suitable for solar, and a telecommunications company owns about 40 acres that run through the middle of the property, which would not be used.
An estimated 60 acres would be used for a solar farm.
“Solar has been the highest priority for the city, feeling that that is the greatest beneficial reuse of this site. However, with the solar, we do intend to preserve the existing walking trails that are there,” Waske Sutter said.
A portion of the property could be used to power the city-owned electric distribution system, which provides power to 18,000 streetlights and 120 facilities.
“We anticipate that could be about 1 to 2 megawatts out of that total 15 to 16 megawatts,” Waske Sutter said.
The city announced Thursday it will work to gather more information from potential providers and will later open the project up for formal bids.
“We are kind of looking for more 20,000-foot level information for people to help us understand what might you be thinking, what are some opportunities, some creative opportunities to use solar. How might we incorporate battery storage or parking with car port solar on top,” Waske Sutter said.
For more information on the project, you can visit the new Butterworth Solar webpage.