As solar power project developers look to old brownfields sites to host photovoltaic arrays, one of the most impressive new examples of the trend is in Kokomo, Indiana, where Inovateus Solar and Alterra Power officially opened a 21,000-panel, 7-megawatt solar PV system in April.
This wasn’t just another brownfield, but a Superfund site: a former Continental Steel plant that went bankrupt in 1986, was torn down two years later, and languished for nearly three decades as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency oversaw a $66 million cleanup and remediation. Many years of manufacturing of nails, wire, and fencing had left substantial soil and groundwater contamination in the heart of Kokomo.
TRC played a key behind-the-scenes role in making this Superfund-to-solar transformation happen, developing a Contaminant Containment & Contingency Plan, as well as a plan for how to construct and lay out the thousands of solar panel racks without compromising the protective lining that covers the entire site, called a “surficial direct contact barrier.’’
TRC advised Inovateus Solar and Alterra Power on site plan review and permit sequencing with local regulatory agencies such as the Indiana Department of Environmental Management. We designed and secured permits for soil erosion and sedimentation control and advised our clients on compliance inspections under existing Environmental Restrictive Covenants (ERCs) placed on the site as part of the Superfund activities. TRC also provided key services that enabled Alterra to secure the millions of dollars in financing needed to complete the project, including environmental due diligence and the negotiation of a “comfort letter” with the EPA to provide protection against liability for future cleanup costs.
All this assistance has led to the successful development of a new source of renewable energy for 1,000 homes. For the first time in decades, what was once home to Kokomo’s largest employer is once again producing tax revenue for the city, about $36,000 per year and a steadily increasing amount in decades to come. Nearby the solar panels, 30 soccer fields are being developed along with a walking trail.
As part of our Company Vision statement, TRC’s pledges that “we will solve the challenges of making the Earth a better place to live—community by community and project by project.” What we’ve helped our clients and partners achieve in Kokomo proves out that commitment. We couldn’t agree more with Kokomo Mayor Greg Goodnight, who said the outcome of this project has been “inspiring, and a win for all involved.”