Duke Energy and Buncombe County have just agreed to team up to build the state’s first solar power plant on a retired landfill in the town of Woodfin, North Carolina.
The power company will own and operate the 5-megawatt solar power plant located on the old landfill – near Interstate 26 and the French Broad River, and will help meet the county’s 2030 renewable energy goals.
“Working with local communities is critical to advancing our clean energy plan,” said Stephen De May, Duke Energy’s North Carolina president. “This project is an innovative example of how to creatively repurpose land to advance community goals.”
The plant is expected to come online in the second half of 2021 and will produce enough energy annually to power about 1,000 homes and businesses.
“We are excited to see the solar farm on the county’s retired landfill moving forward. This is a great way to make productive use of land that cannot be used for many other purposes while helping the county meet its goal of using 100% renewable energy by 2030,” notes Board of Commission Chairman Brownie Newman.
Sourcing its renewables from local generation was identified as a top priority during the county’s renewable energy community engagement process. This project will allow the county to reach nearly 20% of its renewable goal with locally sourced clean energy.
The landfill stopped operating in 1996. To avoid disturbing the ground covering, the solar racking system will be built on concrete blocks instead of being anchored into the ground. Underground cabling will be kept to a minimum. Check out video footage of the site.
The project will be located on 25 acres and will be connected to the Duke Energy power grid. Under a 25-year agreement, the county will lease the land to Duke Energy. For Buncombe County to include the solar power generated toward its 100% renewable energy goal, it will own the Renewable Energy Certificates (REC) from the Duke Energy power plant to offset the energy used from the county’s operations.
The solar project is just one of many Duke Energy investments in the region. The company recently finished construction of the $817 million Asheville Combined Cycle Station, which became fully operational April 5, 2020. The new station replaced a 344-megawatt two-unit coal plant at the Asheville site, which retired on Jan. 29, 2020.
The company’s efforts in the region also include increased participation in energy efficiency and conservation programs to reduce energy usage, a battery storage project in Asheville and a solar and battery microgrid system in neighboring Madison County.
More details about the landfill solar plant are in the company’s filing with the North Carolina Utilities Commission.