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Chelmsford, Middleton look to convert landfills into solar farms

Middleton hopes to join about two dozen communities in the state that have used landfill sites for solar farms.
Middleton hopes to join about two dozen communities in the state that have used landfill sites for solar farms.Matthew Cavanaugh for The Boston Globe

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For decades, the Rubchinuk family illegally dumped tons of demolition debris at a makeshift landfill off East Road in Middleton, until the mid-1980s, when state regulators took over the property and eventually capped the toxic mess.

Town officials are now seeking to turn that environmentally scarred piece of land – and a former municipal landfill capped in 1996 – into generators of green energy by installing several acres of power-producing solar panels.

“We’re trying to find a viable use for these properties and get some revenue out of them while increasing our reliance on renewable energy sources,” said Mark Kelly, manager of the Middleton Electric Light Department.

In Chelmsford – where the school district is preparing to install solar panels on school buildings to lower its electricity bills – town officials are using a $12,500 state grant to explore putting a solar farm on the capped Swain Road landfill.

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