AMP to Go Solar on Mount Trashmore

Google Earth (Above): The former site of Alameda’s landfill, affectionately known as “Mount Trashmore,” may soon take on another role, that of supplying electricity to the City of Alameda.

AMP to Go Solar on Mount Trashmore

Alameda Municipal Power (AMP) is a step closer to building a solar facility at the Doolittle Landfill site after receiving unanimous approval from the Planning Board at its Monday, Nov. 23 meeting.

The project is called the AMP Solar Project. AMP plans to build a 2.0-megawatt photovoltaic solar facility on an 11-acre portion of the 33.2-acre site, known as Mount Trashmore, at the intersection of Doolittle Drive and Harbor Bay Parkway. The site was home to the landfill from 1953 to 1985.

The seven-member Board voted unanimously to adopt two draft resolutions regarding the project. First, to adopt the initial study/mitigated negative declaration (IS/MND) and mitigation monitoring reporting program (MMRP). The IS/MND evaluates the potential environmental impacts of the project. The MMRP delineates responsibilities for monitoring the project, but also allows the City of Alameda flexibility and discretion in determining how best to monitor implementation, according to the project memorandum.

Second, the Board voted to approve the draft Use Permit to allow the construction and operation of the facility.

Due to the deep contours around the perimeter of the site, the project will be located on the 11-acre flat plateau in the center of the property atop the landfill. AMP will install approximately 7,830 thin-film, non-reflective photovoltaic solar panels and 16 utility-scale inverters, according to the memorandum. The inverters will convert sunlight into electricity. The converted energy will be fed directly into the utility grid from an interconnection point adjacent to the site.

AMP Senior Energy Analyst Alan Harbottle also said transformers and a switchboard will possibly be located at the bottom of the property.

All solar equipment will be placed at or above grade on concrete slabs with no ground penetration. The project will be operated by a developer chosen by AMP. The developer’s maintenance activities will include monthly visits to maintain equipment and control vegetation levels, according to City of Alameda Planning, Building and Transportation Department staff member Henry Dong.
The site has been vacant since 1985. The landfill is currently being monitored by the City while decomposition occurs beneath the landfill cap.

A future open space park is planned for the property in approximately 25 years when conditions at the site are anticipated to be safe for public use, according to the memorandum. The property is currently zoned M-2, General Industrial Zoning and is designated as Parks and Public Open Space in the General Plan.

The term of the proposed Use Permit will end in 25 years. At the end of the of the 25-year term, the City has the right to take back the property and build the park. If the City chooses to do so, the developer will have one year to remove all solar equipment from the site.
AMP’s plan to build the solar facility is part of the larger Northern California Power Association (NCPA) Solar Project plan. The NCPA is a non-profit organization that consists of 16 local electric utility agencies, including AMP, with the objective to make joint investments in energy resources that would ensure an affordable, reliable, and clean supply of electricity for customers in its member communities. The objective of the NCPA Solar Project 1 is to develop a fleet of Photovoltaic (PV) Solar Power Plants throughout participating member service territories, according to the NCPA website.

The Public Utilities Board (PUB) held a series of meetings to evaluate the feasibility of constructing the facility at the site. At its Sept. 2019 meeting, the PUB directed AMP to continue its participation in the NCPA Solar Project and move forward with the City review process. AMP has since received approval from the recreation and parks and golf commissions.

The project now moves to the City Council where they will approve a lease of the land and a power purchase agreement with the NCPA. AMP will also seek final authorization for the solar facility from the Public Utility Board.

Alameda Municipal Power presented its plan to the Planning Board last Monday.