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Company eyeing Superfund site to build solar project

New Hampshire Union Leader

April 25. 2018 8:57PM
Signs warn trespassers of potential hazardous waste at the Superfund site on Auburn Road in Londonderry. Plans are in the works to put solar panels at the site. (DAVID LANE/?UNION LEADER)

LONDONDERRY - Former Dyn executive Jeremy Hitchcock co-founded a company that wants to build a solar project on a Superfund site on town-owned land in Londonderry — with more on the horizon.

The 10-megawatt project, dubbed Superfund Solar, will provide the town with more than $200,000 in yearly revenue once it starts producing power, which could be as late as April 2022, said Chris Stewart, a principal at Granite Apollo.

Stewart and Hitchcock — co-founder and former CEO of Manchester-based internet infrastructure company Dyn — co-founded Granite Apollo last year. The business is housed at 848 Elm St. in Manchester.

“Granite is building a substantial portfolio of solar projects, but I’m not ready to say publicly how big our company might get,” Hitchcock said Wednesday.

“Companies are looking at power as a line item that they can manage through additional power sources and not going to the open market,” Hitchcock said in an email.

Granite Apollo’s website said it “is a development company focused on large-scale solar energy projects in the New England marketplace.”

Stewart said Londonderry marks the company’s first and only publicly announced project. He said he expected to bring in more people later to help with the Londonderry project.

The Londonderry effort, expected to generate enough electricity to power about 2,500 homes, will cost between $12 million and $14 million, Stewart said.

The 25-year lease for the Londonderry project can be extended to 40, he said.

The town council recently “gave the green light to move forward with the contract,” Town Manager Kevin Smith said.

The development, he said, will avoid the 200-acre site’s most sensitive areas.

“They’re staying out of the groundwater management zone initially because that area may need further remediation as far as digging up the site in the future,” Smith said.

The site near Auburn Road includes three separate disposal areas, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

One was the former town dump, which operated during the 1960s and was used for the disposal of more than 1,000 drums of chemical waste.

Another was a tire disposal area, where tires and demolition debris and several hundred drums of chemical waste were dumped. A third was used as a solid waste landfill that was active until the state ordered the entire landfill closed in 1980 after hazardous wastes were identified in soil, and toxic organic substances were found in surface water and groundwater, according to the EPA’s website.

Smith, who didn’t think the town would find someone to use the site, said a couple of solar companies reviewed the site a few years back but determined it wasn’t close enough to a required power source.

So when Granite Apollo came calling, Smith said, “I really didn’t think anything would come of that.”

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