With a 15-5 vote, Bridgeport's City Council approved a massive solar energy project this week that could bring thousands of solar panels to a former city landfill. Since dumps are no longer allowed in Connecticut, that's left a lot of city leaders wondering what to do with that old space.
For example, the landfill in Seaside Park "has been a landfill since about 1900 or a little before that," said Bill Finch, Bridgeport's mayor. "But it's been stabilized. It has a cap on it ... so it isn't going anywhere, but it isn't exactly the cleanest place to do things. We really don't have much use for this land other than solar."
Now, the city of Bridgeport will lease about 16 acres of that space to United Illuminating. UI’s ratepayers will pick up the roughly $35 million tab to build the array and "the land will still be owned by the city," Finch said. "The responsibilities of maintaining the landfill still remain with the city, but there's a ground lease - and the ground lease is for 20 years - and it's going to put about $7 million into city coffers over that time, which is a welcome bit of financing for the city."
UI says the project is scheduled to be completed by June 2015.