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Old Posted Apr 15, 2011, 3:53 PM
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Cities Use Brownfields to Go Solar

April 13, 2011

Read More: http://sustainablecitiescollective.c...ields-go-solar

New York City, Chicago, and Philadelphia increasingly view their contaminated inner-city brownfield sites as natural locations for large-scale solar installations. At the national Brownfields conference, each city explained how solar farms can be set up in the unlikeliest places, saving the money involved in cleaning up some of the worst sites.

- In Chicago, Dave Graham, who works on the city’s brownfield program, said the City Solar project just “fell into our laps.” He was called into a meeting in the mayor’s office with representatives from Exelon and SunPower, and found they wanted to create a massive solar farm on a derelict brownfield site. Actually, massive is an understatement for this project: it’s the largest urban solar plant in the U.S. Its 32,000 photo voltaic (PV) panels provide 10 MW of energy, enough for 1,500 local homes. In addition, GPS tracking systems help tilt the panels, ensuring the most efficient use of solar energy.

- Philadelphia won a Solar America Cities grant, which they will use to help create renewable power purchasing agreements. Kristin Sullivan, Philadelphia Mayor’s Office for Sustainability, said a number of city-owned sites are already being prepped for solar. In an example of multi-use infrastructure, Philadelphia Water Department’s treatment facilities will also host panels, generating 250 KW of power. In addition, the city will soon be issuing a request for proposals for a new 3 MW facility. Sullivan said Philadelphia hopes to encourage private sector developers to take the lead on creating solar power plants, even on city-owned lands. This makes more financial sense for the city then owning and operating its own solar power facilities.

- New York City launched SPEED, a searchable database of brownfield properties, a “real estate search engine”, that has gotten great traffic from the local developer community. Dan Walsh, Mayor’s Office of Operations, New York City government, said SPEED includes historical maps so developers can “toggle through time” and explore some 3,150 vacant commercial and industrial brownfield sites spread throughout the city. The idea is to use some of these sites for solar power plants. To make it even easier for developers, the city launched a $9 million brownfield reinvestment fund. Each developer of a brownfield site gets $60-140,000 “fast” if they commit to cleaning-up a brownfield or redeveloping for energy uses. The grants can be used to cover expenses involved in design, investigation, clean-up, or insurance, says Walsh.


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