Brightfields, also known as brownfields, are an amazing way to turn otherwise unusable land into clean energy generation by installing solar on closed landfills.
In 2019, MnSEIA lobbied for a study examining the policy impediments to installing solar on closed landfills in Minnesota. That study found two major hurdles: the bonds associated with each closed landfill, and how the Landfill Cleanup Act governed beneficial reuse.
MnSEIA consulted and worked with stakeholders including Connexus Energy, the Minnesota Environmental Quality Board, the Metropolitan Council, and others to help craft legislation that would jump those hurdles.
In the 2021 Legislative Session, MnSEIA successfully passed Brightfields into law. This legislation:
- Paid off the $100,000 bond left on the Anoka-Ramsey closed landfill.
- Fixed the Landfill Cleanup Act, freeing Connexus Energy to move forward with a pilot project on the Anoka-Ramsey site.
- Created a Solar on Closed Landfills Fund. The fund is paid into by land leases on brightfield projects and will be used to pay off other landfill bonds to create more brightfields.
The program should snowball, where older projects open the doors for future projects. Hopefully one day Minnesota will see the 950 MW of solar capacity that the Environmental Quality Board identified in its report.