Former Rhode Island petroleum storage facility redeveloped for solar energy production

With the help of GZA GeoEnvironmental Inc. (GZA), Kearsarge Energy has successfully developed and commissioned a 2.8-MW solar energy array on a former petroleum storage facility that is undergoing environmental remediation. The project, on a 9.5-acre site on Dexter Road, includes 6,884 solar PV modules that will generate 3.5 million kWh of annual electricity, which is enough to meet the needs of more than 300 typical Rhode Island households.

The Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA) has agreed to purchase discounted net metered credits associated with the East Providence solar farm, which are projected to deliver RIPTA more than $5 million in savings over 20 years.

“The GZA team was a critical component of our success as they led permitting, environmental compliance, and remediation and oversaw construction. The project adds to our nearly 80 megawatts of installed solar capacity across Rhode Island, and we are pleased that it proved to be beneficial for the landowner, the City of East Providence, The East Providence Waterfront Commission, RIPTA, and all involved stakeholders.” said Kearsarge Managing Partner Andrew Bernstein.

“There are few better examples of a ‘brownfield to brightfield’ solar redevelopment than Kearsarge Energy’s visionary and transformational East Providence solar installation. GZA is honored to have provided engineering, geotechnical, and permitting services to our longtime client Kearsarge and to help secure this site as a producer of clean energy, jobs, and local tax revenues.” said GZA CEO Patrick Sheehan.

Under the oversight of the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (RIDEM), GZA has been leading a cost-effective remediation of subsurface petroleum product at the site through controlled biodegradation, bioventing, and other technologies, with one-third of the site closed in 2016. GZA demonstrated to RIDEM that the Kearsarge solar installation would be fully compatible with the site’s conditions and ongoing remediation efforts.

The East Providence project created 40 construction jobs, $280,000 in new annual property tax revenue for the city, and $362,500 in local electric grid infrastructure upgrades. More than 60 percent of the 9.5-acre site is being preserved as open space with new shrubbery, turf and other natural vegetation.

GZA has, to date, helped clients develop more than 2,500 MWof solar energy capacity across 13 states, on sites including landfills, rooftops, parking garages, greenfield developments, brownfield redevelopments, and multi-use properties.

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