'A perfect opportunity': Possible solar project pegged for Wilton landfill

An aerial shot of the joint solar field in Middletown, shared by Wilton and Weston. The field went live at the end of December 2019. The new proposed field would be squarely in Wilton, utilizing a landfill.

An aerial shot of the joint solar field in Middletown, shared by Wilton and Weston. The field went live at the end of December 2019. The new proposed field would be squarely in Wilton, utilizing a landfill.

Contributed photo /

WILTON — The town may soon have a solar energy option, with a metering station and solar field being discussed as a possible project on a landfill in town.

The landfill, which Department of Public Works and Facilities Chris Burney said encapsulates 71 acres, is being pegged as the possible location due to its size, terrain and inability to utilize the land otherwise.

“This is a perfect opportunity here because the landfill has no other purpose or value,” First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice said at a Board of Selectmen meeting on May 3. “We can take this and convert it into something that is helping residents living in affordable units.”

Vanderslice said residents living in developments like Wilton Commons, as well as small businesses in town would reap the benefits of this project, if it were to materialize.

One of the listed goals of the Shared Clean Energy Facilities Program as a whole is to “provide savings to specific categories of customers, particularly customers with low to moderate income, low-income services organizations and customers who reside in environmental justice communities.”

“There are a number of people that could benefit from this,” Vanderslice said.

Prior legislation on the program specified that applicants could include low-income customers and affordable housing facilities, moderate-income customers, small businesses, state or municipal customers, other commercial customers, and non-low-to-moderate income customers who either reside in a rental property or a property where the they do not control the roof or reside in their own property but are not capable of installing solar panels.

“As a town, we don’t have to do anything,” Burney said. He said Eversource, one of the energy companies that services Connecticut, would assume responsibility.

For the entire SCEF Program, Eversource is set to partner with the United Illuminating Company, with the former responsible for 20 megawatts, or 80 percent, of annual power produced, and the latter responsible for the remaining 5 megawatts, or 20 percent, according to documents submitted to the town website.

A single project’s plan of output, such as in Wilton, would be capped at 4 megawatts. The smallest project would produce 100 kilowatts. One kilowatt is equal to 1,000 watts, and one megawatt is equal to 1,000 kilowatts, or 1 million watts.

Besides being capped by scope of the project, Vanderslice and Burney discussed how the terrain could affect the potential proposal as well.

“Not all of the land is buildable,” Burney said. “It is a varied terrain. We would have to find out how many square feet of property we can use.”

He added that “somewhere around 30 to 40 acres” would be ideal for the project.

Vanderslice said the applicant would have to submit an application to visit and survey the land for possible use. The deadline for that application is June 14.

“They would need to lease that land for that assessment,” Vanderslice said, before informing her fellow selectmen that they would have to make a decision at an upcoming meeting on whether or not they’d draft an agreement to allow the town land to be leased.

The project will likely have to be approved by the Connecticut Siting Council, who typically deals with issues such as cell tower proposals for municipalities. The first selectwoman said a former project which was smaller in scale had to go to the siting council, but was approved expeditiously.

“It came back unbelievably quick,” Burney said.

In terms of visibility, the board is confident that the targeted property would be able to hide the solar field from neighbors.

“Seventy-one acres is a lot of property to hide something,” Burney said.