Cuyahoga County Builds Solar Farm At Brooklyn Landfill, Buys Electric Cars

The old Brooklyn landfill is a new county solar farm [ Cuyahoga County Sustainability Office ]
The old Brooklyn landfill is a new county solar farm [ Cuyahoga County Sustainability Office ]

A Brooklyn landfill is now home to a Cuyahoga County solar farm, designed to help the county with its utility bills.

County Sustainability Director Mike Foley says the 17-acre project at 9400 Memphis Avenue was a good fit. “They’ve got a large landfill; it’s been closed and capped for about 10 years,” Foley said. “It’s close enough to substation lines that we could take advantage of existing infrastructure, build out a little bit with Cleveland Public Power.”

Foley says the county had to switch the power supplier for some of its buildings to Cleveland Public Power, and the solar farm will provide over 5 percent of the power to 15 county properties.

Cuyahoga County is contributing $7.8 million in funds allocated for utilities to the $10 million project.

“We’ve prepaid $4 million of it, which went to help construction of the actual project,” Foley said. “That gives us a credit toward the energy that is produced from this project that goes into our electric bills. Then we’ll be paying off the other $3.8 million over 10 years.”

The county projects a savings of $3 million over 25 years. Foley says IGS energy, which currently owns the project, receives a 30 percent tax credit from the federal government, lowering its costs. The county has the option to purchase the solar farm for fair market value in seven years.

First Energy's Cleveland Electric Illuminating Company sued Cleveland and Cleveland Public Power over the project alleging CPP is operating outside city borders. A trial is scheduled for December.

“They’re not happy they’re losing customers,” Foley said. “They’re losing the county as a customer, potentially losing Brooklyn as a customer. Frankly, they’re fighting it and putting up some hurdles for us to get this project done.”

Foley says the county is confident it has the legal ability to build the project, and it's already receiving power from the solar farm.

Despite a cloudy and rainy start for the solar panels, Foley says the county has thoroughly researched the amount of sunshine in the area from the National Renewable Energy Lab map.

“Over a course of a year we get on average one less hour of average peak sun a day than Florida does, so we factored all that in,” Foley said.

County Purchases Electric Cars

The county also announced Tuesday it's buying electric cars through the Climate Mayors Electric Vehicle Purchasing Collaborative, one of 20 cities or counties in the U.S. to make that commitment.

“Cuyahoga County has agreed to go in for five to kind of test the theory, test the system,” Foley said. “We think it’s kind of cool, electric vehicles aren’t going to go away.”

Foley says costs vary on charging stations and the county plans to have them at its facility in Newburgh Heights. The electric cars cost about $30,000 each and the county hopes to have them on the road for light duty in four to five months.

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