Landfill Becomes First In Tenn. With Solar Panels - | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

Landfill Becomes First In Tenn. With Solar Panels

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By Adam Ghassemi

HERMITAGE, Tenn. – Every few minutes, big trucks bring in new loads, but construction debris can legally only pile-up so high.

"Structurally we can't put a building up here; what can we do with it?" John Binkley asked standing atop a finished portion of his family's construction debris landfill.

The Binkleys decided to be the first in the state to top their landfill with solar panels. The finished product is longer than a football field.

"We feel like our family. It's our responsibility as environmental stewards to do the right thing with our property," he said.

Designers say the million dollar investment wouldn't have been possible with the technology and cost of just 10 years ago. Since flipping the switch in late March, 832 panels generate roughly one-thousand kilowatt hours every day.

"This array would generate enough electricity to power roughly 150 homes for a year," said Project Manager Matt Smith with Stansell Electric Company.

That's power they produce and sell back to Nashville Electric Service.

"It's offsetting our energy use that we take off of it, so we kind of get a credit balance on the excess energy that we produce from here," Binkley said.

Binkley's 13-year-old son Albert will have a very different summer than most of his friends. He'll be pushing dirt and grass around that came from Vanderbilt Stadium when the school decided artificial turf was better than a natural one.

"So we're recycling it and just putting it under there so we can grow the grass," Albert Binkley said.

That means nearly every inch of the project works to keep the landfill as green as possible.

"Now this is just like the final step of our environmental stewardship of the property," John Binkley went on to say.

The section had to be compacted and remain dormant for eight years before the panels could be installed. Incentives and grants could mean the project pays for itself by the year 2018.

Binkley says he hopes to move the family's scrap metal recycling operation to the landfill where the solar panels could help offset that company's entire energy costs.



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