Five Years After Approval, Hingham Solar Array Nears Construction

"Five years after Hingham residents voted to put a solar array on top of the capped landfill on Hobart Street, the project has gained the approval of the planning board."

Article: Wheeler Cowperthwaite | Publication: The Patriot Ledger | Date: 2021-03-02 

HINGHAM - Five years after Hingham residents voted to put a solar array on top of the capped landfill on Hobart Street, the project has gained the approval of the planning board.

The Hingham Planning Board voted unanimously Monday night to approve the site plan for the 396 kilowatt array with a series of conditions, including that the developer, Omni Navitas Holdings LLC, come back before the planning board in a year to make sure neighbors have no complaints.

March 2016: Solar panels atop Hingham landfill? Town meeting will decide

Residents approved a plan to put solar panels on top of the capped landfill in 2016 during the annual town meeting. The selectmen were to transfer control of part of the landfill to the Hingham Municipal Light Plant, which would then negotiate a lease with a private developer to build and operate the array.

The town meeting warrant article gave the light plant two years to negotiate a deal, which was not signed until one day before the deadline.

Omni Navitas is the same developer tapped to put solar arrays in the parking lots of MBTA stations across the South Shore.

November 2018: MBTA turns to solar arrays at South Shore train stations

Omni Navitas representative John McDonough said once the company has final sign-off from the state the project will be basically ready for construction. He predicts construction will start by the end of June.

This rendering shows what the view of the solar array on top of the Hobart Street landfill should look like when built.

Part of the environmental permit deals with how the solar array will sit on the capped landfill. Normally, piles are driven into the ground but the array cannot puncture the landfill cap so they will instead be held in place by large concrete blocks.

May 2018: Sublease signed for solar array at Hingham landfill

McDonough said the project has been in the works for so long because the original program for municipal solar ended and they had to rework the project based on the economics of the new program.

He said the solar array should produce enough power for 50 homes, about 2 percent of the total number of households in Hingham.

Hingham Municipal Lighting Plant general manager Paul Heanue previously estimated the array will produce 800,000 kilowatt-hours of power annually, just 0.38 percent of the 208 million kilowatt-hours the light plant provides with electricity purchased through the New England Power Pool.

Hingham will join a long list of other communities that have already put solar arrays on their capped landfills, including Rockland, Marshfield, Scituate, Duxbury, Canton and Cohasset.

January 2017: SPECIAL REPORT: South Shore towns turn capped landfills into solar arrays

The state Department of Environmental Protection has approved the use of 87 closed landfills in the state for renewable energy, 49 of which are currently operating.

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