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N. Hempstead may use landfills for solar energy plants

Igor Sikiric, executive director of the Town of

Igor Sikiric, executive director of the Town of North Hempstead Solid Waste Management Authority, stands atop one of the town's landfills. (Dec. 17, 2013) Credit: Danielle Finkelstein

The Town of North Hempstead is considering the creation of two solar-energy plants on its shuttered landfills in Port Washington.

Under the plan, the town would allow a private company to build two 2-megawatt solar-energy-generating plants -- one on each of the town's two landfills off West Shore Road in Port Washington.

The energy generated from the two plants, enough to power 1,000 homes, would be fed into the power grid. The private firm would pay to develop and build the plants, and would lease the two landfills from the town for a 20-year term.

The firm would apply to be included in a solar-energy program with the Long Island Power Authority, which has announced its intentions to purchase 100 megawatts of solar energy under the program.

The town board heard the proposal during a work session last week with Massachusetts-based consultant TRC Environmental.

The board plans to take up the idea at its Jan. 7 meeting, in order to allow the company it chooses to meet LIPA's application deadline at the end of January.

Both the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which oversees the older landfill, also a Superfund site, and the state Department of Environmental Conservation, which oversees both landfills, are in favor of the idea, according to the consultant.

The town received proposals from four companies and is set to consider applications from three of them next month.

Interim Supervisor John Riordan said he couldn't divulge how much money the town is set to make from the plan, because a company hasn't been chosen and contracts haven't been signed, but maintained that it would benefit the town.

"It's an opportunity to provide funds to the town at basically no cost to the town," Riordan said Thursday. "It'll utilize the landfill in a way that is environmentally sound and economically beneficial to the town."

Igor Sikiric, executive director of the North Hempstead Solid Waste Management Authority, agreed.

"The department and the town have been trying to think of uses for the landfill for years," Sikiric said. "It's using a piece of property that really is almost useless in a way."

The panels would face south, toward the area's commercial properties, although homes in the area that have a view of the landfill would also see the equipment, Sikiric said.

He added that the equipment would not interfere with the caps on the landfills, or any other remediation measures the town has in place on the sites.

If all goes well, Sikiric said, construction could begin next summer or fall.

"It's mostly a feel-good project," he said. "Saving energy, saving the environment, making some money."

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