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Old Berkeley County landfill eyed as possible solar farm site

August 30, 2012|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD | matthew.umstead@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — The old Berkeley County landfill near Martinsburg, which has been closed since the fall of 1991, is being eyed as a potential site for a solar energy farm, Berkeley County Solid Waste Authority’s board chairman told Berkeley County Council members Thursday.

Clint Hogbin said he is exploring the possibility of installing solar panels at the 24-acre landfill off Grapevine Road on behalf of the Solid Waste Authority board.

While his investigation is in the “very early stages,” Hogbin told council members that a south-facing area of the landfill appears to be a very suitable location for a solar farm.

The old landfill is part of a 140-acre parcel owned by the Solid Waste Authority. The solar panels would be installed east of the Solid Waste Authority’s Grapevine Road recycling center.

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Hogbin said the recycling center needs little electricity to operate currently, but the solar power generated could be used by a company that is proposing to sort and treat garbage to create a refuse fuel to burn in cement kilns.

Entsorga West Virginia LLC has applied for a certificate to build a $19 million resource recovery facility on 4 acres of the Solid Waste Authority’s property west of the recycling center, according to a state Public Service Commission application and Hogbin.

Area waste hauler Apple Valley Waste Services has committed to disposing up to 7,000 tons per month at the proposed facility, according to the Entsorga’s application filed with the PSC.

Hogbin said after Thursday’s council meeting that without Entsorga’s investment,  he doesn’t believe the solar panel farm concept would advance very far because of state utility regulations.

The Public Service Commission this month ordered that Entsorga’s application be referred to the state regulatory agency’s Administrative Law Judges division for a recommended decision on or before Jan. 9, 2013, according to the agency’s online case docket.

While Entsorga’s proposed investment could effectively double the volume of what is recycled through the Solid Waste Authority’s recycling program, Hogbin told the Berkeley County Council that the county already is on track to see a substantial increase in participation this year.

When comparing numbers from the first six months of last year with this year’s figures, participation in the recycling program increased by about 10 percent, Hogbin said after Thursday’s meeting.

Growth in electronics recycling has been particularly significant, according to Hogbin, who added that a box trailer is now being filled with televisions and other unwanted items about every seven to 10 days.

Aside from traditional recycling participation, 651 people participated in the Solid Waste Authority’s second paint collection event, which yielded about 100 cubic yards of cans, he said.

The turnout for the paint collection event easily surpassed expectations and caused a lengthy back-up of vehicles that stretched from the recycling center onto Grapevine Road, according to Hogbin

Sensitive paper shredding events netted 5,863 pounds of material and Hogbin said they also have collected about 10,000 tires this year so far. 

“Obviously, there’s a need for more of these events,” Hogbin said.

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