Memorandums of Understanding Will Allow State to Explore Feasibility of Hosting Build-Ready Renewable Energy Projects on Closed Landfills in the Southern Tier and Hudson Valley

March 10, 2023

The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) today announced agreements on two municipally-owned sites for potential renewable energy development. Under these memorandums of understanding (MOU), NYSERDA through its Build-Ready Program will work closely with Tompkins County in the Southern Tier and Orange County in the Hudson Valley, to explore the feasibility of developing renewable energy projects on otherwise underutilized lands. Today’s announcements represent progress under the State’s Accelerated Renewable Energy Growth and Community Benefit Act and advances New York’s goal for 70 percent of the state’s electricity to come from renewable sources by 2030 under the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act.

Doreen M. Harris, President and CEO, NYSERDA said, "New York is ramping-up its penetration of renewable energy by cultivating a portfolio of underutilized sites that offer municipalities and the private sector opportunities to partner with us on strategic project siting and development. These agreements with Tompkins County and Orange County will help us to better understand the viability of these landfills for potentially hosting a large-scale solar project, and we look forward to ongoing collaboration with municipalities across the state to realize clean energy projects that reflect the interests of local communities.”

The first MOU was executed by NYSERDA and Tompkins County following a resolution passed by the County Legislature in relation to a closed solid waste landfill which was nominated by the County for participation in the Build-Ready Program. The Caswell Road Landfill was opened in 1970, taking in an average of 29,400 tons of waste per year for 15 years until its closure in 1985. The 112-acre site will potentially host a large-scale renewable solar energy project on the capped landfill and adjacent area to bring new economic growth and opportunity to the local community and will be designed and constructed in accordance with on-going New York State Department of Environmental Conservation post-closure maintenance and monitoring requirements. This potential project would advance progress towards the County’s goal of net-zero emissions and transitioning from grid-supplied electricity generated outside Tompkins County to local renewable generation. This project also complements efforts by Empire State Development’s Southern Tier Regional Economic Development Council to attract talent and investment for the development of high-tech industry clusters while ensuring healthy communities and protecting the natural beauty and resources of the region.

Chairwoman of the Tompkins County Legislature Shawna Black stated, “The potential to generate solar energy from the Caswell Road site is huge. Tompkins County has aggressive goals on being a net-zero organization, generating electricity from solar on otherwise dormant land is a great opportunity. Thank you to NYSERDA and County staff for getting us to this point and for their vision of ensuring that we’re able to make the best use of the closed landfill area in the long term.”

Town of Dryden Supervisor Jason Leifer said, “The Town of Dryden is looking forward to participating in the review of this project. Transforming this brownfield to a beneficial use would be in the community’s interest. The Town of Dryden is already host to renewable energy projects that collectively produce approximately 33 megawatts of power. Using brownfields for this purpose is preferable to using farmland.”

The second MOU was executed by NYSERDA with Orange County, and is the first step to investigating and completing necessary due diligence and community engagement. Located on the County’s former landfill, which closed in 1992, the municipally-owned site spans 420 acres and is under consideration for hosting a large-scale solar project. This potential project would complement other efforts the County has made for new clean energy projects including the existing solar array at the Emergency Operations Center, the combined heat and power renovations at the Valley View facility, geothermal design with ground source heat pumps for the proposed Medical Examiner’s building, light-emitting diode (LED) lighting installation in various county buildings, and the County’s first three electric vehicle charging stations which are expected to be installed later this year. The project also supports efforts by Empire State Development’s Mid-Hudson Regional Economic Development Council to imagine a future that makes the region a unique destination and place to live and do business in thriving industry sectors.

Orange County Executive Stefan M. Neuhaus said, “The County is continually looking for ways to save energy and better serve the interest of the public. This project will help further the county’s energy efficiency initiatives. We are excited about this potential opportunity to repurpose the closed landfill and help to meet the renewable energy goals of the New York State Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, while also saving taxpayer money.”

Entering into these MOUs will allow NYSERDA to conduct further due diligence and community engagement to evaluate the prospects of two large-scale renewable energy projects. If there is local acceptance, strong project feasibility, and agreement to move forward between NYSERDA and the counties, NYSERDA will initiate development activities including detailed engineering, interconnection, and permitting.

The Build-Ready Program is currently advancing a pipeline of sites across New York State, having screened over 14,000 sites and progressing dozens of sites through more advanced assessment and development. Local community members, elected officials, private companies, environmental justice communities, or other interested parties are encouraged to nominate potential Build-Ready sites, which will be considered on a rolling basis, through the program’s Request for Information.

Empire State Development President, CEO & Commissioner Hope Knight said, "New York State is leading the way when it comes to efforts to support renewable energy and today's announcement further advances our ambitious climate goals. We are committed to clean energy, and to public-private partnerships that will fuel economic development and growth, while also moving New Yorkers toward a greener future."

Alliance for Clean Energy New York Executive Director Anne Reynolds said, “NYSERDA’s Build-Ready Program aims to develop solar energy projects on otherwise under-utilized sites, such as closed landfills, and today’s announcement is a great example. Re-purposing industrialized lands for the production of pollution-free power is good policy, and we applaud this collaboration with Tompkins and Orange Counties.”

Center for Land Recycling Executive Director Jean Hamerman said, “As the leading national nonprofit promoting the beneficial reuse of environmentally contaminated and under-utilized properties, the Center for Creative Land Recycling (CCLR) is honored to support NYSERDA's Build Ready team. Closed landfills represent an ideal opportunity to reduce our fossil fuel dependence through solar development. We congratulate Tompkins County and Orange County for supporting large scale renewable energy projects where people live and work. Thank you for raising the bar for other NYS communities!”

New York State's Nation-Leading Climate Plan

New York State's nation-leading climate agenda calls for an orderly and just transition that creates family-sustaining jobs, continues fostering a green economy across all sectors and ensures that at least 35 percent, with a goal of 40 percent, of the benefits of clean energy investments are directed to disadvantaged communities. Guided by some of the nation’s most aggressive climate and clean energy initiatives, New York is on a path to achieving a zero-emission electricity sector by 2040, including 70 percent renewable energy generation by 2030, and economywide carbon neutrality by mid-century. A cornerstone of this transition is New York's unprecedented clean energy investments, including more than $35 billion in 120 large-scale renewable and transmission projects across the state, $6.8 billion to reduce building emissions, $1.8 billion to scale up solar, more than $1 billion for clean transportation initiatives, and over $1.8 billion in NY Green Bank commitments. These and other investments are supporting more than 165,000 jobs in New York’s clean energy sector in 2021 and a 2,100 percent growth in the distributed solar sector since 2011. To reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve air quality, New York also adopted zero-emission vehicle regulations, including requiring all new passenger cars and trucks sold in the State be zero emission by 2035. Partnerships are continuing to advance New York’s climate action with nearly 400 registered and 100 certified Climate Smart Communities, nearly 500 Clean Energy Communities, and the State’s largest community air monitoring initiative in 10 disadvantaged communities across the state to help target air pollution interventions and combat climate change.


NYSERDA, a public benefit corporation, offers objective information and analysis, innovative programs, technical expertise, and funding to help New Yorkers increase energy efficiency, save money, use renewable energy, and reduce reliance on fossil fuels. NYSERDA professionals work to protect the environment and create clean-energy jobs. NYSERDA has been developing partnerships to advance innovative energy solutions in New York State since 1975. To learn more about NYSERDA’s programs and funding opportunities, visit or follow us on Twitter Link opens in new window - close new window to return to this page., Facebook Link opens in new window - close new window to return to this page., YouTube Link opens in new window - close new window to return to this page., or Instagram Link opens in new window - close new window to return to this page..