The United States Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) RE-Powering America’s Land Initiative encourages renewable energy development on current and formerly contaminated lands, landfills and mine sites where development is aligned with the community’s vision for the site. This Initiative identifies the renewable energy potential of these sites and provides other useful resources for communities, developers or anyone else interested in reusing these sites for renewable energy development.
Potentially contaminated land includes sites where contamination is suspected by has not been confirmed and sites where contamination has been identified. Targeted sites include brownfield, superfund sites, sites subject to corrective action under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), mining sites and landfills. RE-Powering has facilitated redevelopment efforts to reuse abandoned industrial sites for wind farms and former landfills for solar farms and bright fields. These projects not only advance cleaner and most cost effective energy technology but reduce the environmental impacts of energy systems.
Potentially contaminated land, landfills and mine sites can offer significant advantages over other sites such as large open space, for renewable energy development. Some of these sites have unique attributes that can lower development costs and shorten development timeframes. Many of these properties offer developers the ability to:
- Leverage existing infrastructure
- Reduce project cycle times through streamlined permitting and zoning
- Improve project economics with reduced land costs and tax incentives
- Gain community support through land revitalization efforts
- Protect open space
Renewable energy projects on contaminated properties can have a number of environmental and economic benefits such as providing a pollution free source of energy. By reusing these sites, your community can see an unused vacant property turn into a facility, warehouse or mix used building that will help improve the local tax base, create jobs and turn this piece of land into an economic opportunity.
This reuses the land but turns an eyesore and potential liability into an asset for the community. Publicly available information states that communities, private site-owners and consumers have saved millions of dollars in energy costs, created construction jobs and received new property tax revenue as a result of reusing these sites for renewable energy. Some of the economic benefits that are commonly found for renewable energy on contaminated land are electricity cost savings, additional land lease revenue to the town or city site owner and increased tax payments for the land and renewable energy systems to the local municipality or state.
Cost savings can very across the numerous installations since they are determined by tax and renewable energy incentives, renewable energy policies such as Renewable Portfolio Standards, local electricity rates and power purchase agreement terms. Sometimes, the site owner agrees to lease the land to the renewable energy developer at a low rate in exchange for substantially reduced electricity charges. Other benefits associated with developing renewable energy on contaminated lands include creation of jobs and the use of local businesses to construct projects taking place on the land.
Accidents, spills, leaks and improper disposal of old hazardous materials have resulted in thousands of contaminated lands in the United States. EPA and their partners work together to address contamination at many of these sites and encourage the restoration of this land for community reuse. Many of these properties will go through an environmental assessment that will ultimately require little or no cleanup. Other sites will require minimal to substantial cleanup before the sites can be returned to productive use. Frontier Group of Companies’ mission is to bring new life to old and contaminated industrial sites. From the initial assessment through final cleanup, Frontier is here to transform the site into land for reuse.
Article adapted from: https://www.epa.gov/re-powering/learn-more-about-re-powering