A former landfill, located 8 miles south of downtown Houston and abandoned for 50 years, will soon become the nation’s largest urban solar farm.
The 240-acre plot, located in Houston’s Sunnyside neighborhood, has been approved for lease to a Wolfe Energy subsidiary by Mayor Sylvester Turner and the city council. Each acre will be leased for $1.00/year.
The installation, which has been named the Sunnyside Solar Project, will be 50 MW in capacity once it reaches operation, which is currently anticipated for the end of 2022.
Mayor Turner’s office has indicated that a portion of the project will be set aside to serve as a community solar installation, though it has not yet been revealed how much capacity will be dedicated to community solar.
Alongside being the nation’s largest urban solar project, the City of Houston is also touting Sunnyside as the nation’s largest brownfield solar installation. Brownfield refers to projects developed on land that housed previous development and has since been environmentally contaminated.
Because of this contamination, the project’s developers, Sunnyside Energy LLC, will be required to complete a site remediation before construction can begin.
Sunnyside Energy is a partnership among EDF Renewables, MP2 Energy, and Wolfe Energy to supply electricity to the Houston-area power grid through MP2 Energy and CenterPoint, meaning the solar-generated power would be distributed across the metropolitan region.
As part of the agreement between the city and Sunnyside Energy, Sunnyside will provide power discounts to low-income residents in the neighborhood, and will train and employ local workers to construct the project.
Sunnyside’s procurement came as a product of the city’s Climate Action Plan and Complete Communities Initiative. Houston’s Climate Action Plan calls on the city to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions annually and establish a pathway to meet the Paris Agreement goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2050.
The Complete Communities Initiative is aimed at ensuring that all city residents have equal access to quality services and amenities and includes sustainability, resilience, and economic development components, hence the requirements for Sunnyside Energy to employ local workers and provide power discounts to Sunnyside residents.
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