Solar panel array in a countryside field under a blue sky with scattered clouds.

A Houston Landfill Is the New Site for a Solar Farm​​

Texas Officials are turning an abandoned dump in Houston's Sunnyside neighborhood into a solar farm powering two separate energy projects .

Houston started its journey toward a greener, more equitable future through solar energy in 2017. 

That year, Houston officials joined 13 other cities in the C40 Reinventing Cities Competition to turn disused land into carbon-free power sources. Alongside private firm Wolfe Energy, officials found hope in an unlikely place: an abandoned 240-acre dump in southern Houston’s Sunnyside neighborhood that would become a solar farm.

[Related: 51 Uses of Solar Energy]

The Plan

Wolfe Energy created Sunnyside Energy, LLC to handle the project after deciding the landfill would house the new solar farm. The City of Houston leased the Sunnyside landfill to the company for $1 per year. That means while the city still owns the land, Sunnyside Energy owns the project itself.

Its team plans to outfit the land with enough panels to power 10,000 homes through solar energy

Two solar energy projects will operate at the former landfill, although the final plans appear as one large project. One portion creates power for local residents, while the other sells energy to large consumers, like schools, hospitals and businesses.

With solar already growing in Houston, Sunnyside Energy hopes to also provide the community with more green space and education. Current plans include walking and biking paths and solar energy education centers.

[Related: Texas Solar Roundup]

How It’s Going

This solar energy project requires large-scale study and approval from the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), a not-for-profit organization comprising energy consumers and businesses. In turn, the land will become suitable for the project because the landfill has been in disrepair for so long. Currently, the Sunnyside Energy team is securing permits and customers to begin construction.

The planning process has a long timeline, but Sunnyside Energy hopes to begin construction in 2022 and to have the facility running by the end of the year.

To do so, the company needs 200 to 300 residential subscribers and three to five nonprofit partners. Subscribers must pay a $100 subscription fee for future upkeep and maintenance. However, Sunnyside Energy estimates customers will recoup costs in the first 13 to 15 years.

Subscribers will also be eligible for a 22% federal investment tax credit, as well as Texas solar rebates and incentives.

[Related: Going Solar Collectively: Guide to Community Solar Projects]

How This Solar Energy Project Promises Hope

Currently, more than one-third of Sunnyside’s residents live below the poverty line. The Sunnyside solar energy project promises 10% of the jobs it creates to locals in addition to ongoing training. Residents will not only reduce their carbon footprints but also receive jobs and education that open up new opportunities.

In 2018 alone, 11 million Americans worked in solar energy. That’s 700,000 more solar energy jobs than in 2017. The Sunnyside Energy project puts Houstonians at the forefront of this growing industry, giving them the means and opportunities they need to succeed.

Plus, the company’s already doing good work, launching a Houston citywide solar co-op in April of 2021.

[Related: How Much Do Solar Panels Cost in Houston?]

Learn More About The Solar Energy Revolution

You can be part of the growing solar revolution and enjoy solar’s benefits even if you’re outside Sunnyside Energy’s solar farm service area!

Speak with us at Freedom Solar Power about a solar installation at your home or business — we’re Texas natives and passionate about your energy goals! We’ll consult with you closely, from using market-leading SunPower® solar panels to reviewing your solar financing options. After all, solar is simply smart for your home and wallet.

Do you need to maintain, repair or upgrade your current solar system? Our solar repair and maintenance service department can help you reach maximum energy production and efficiency.

Call (800) 504-2337 or complete our inquiry form to get in touch. One of our energy consultants will reach out, and you’ll be well on your way to enjoying alternative energy!

Featured image via Unsplash