City to release RFI/RFQ for Solar on Butterworth Landfill

Published on September 18, 2023

Diagram/Map of Butterworth Landfill Map

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. –  The City of Grand Rapids’ vision and work to generate solar power from the Butterworth Landfill site has persisted for over a decade and now has new momentum. On Tuesday, Sept. 5, the City Commission heard an overview of opportunities from the Office of Sustainability and Strategy and confirmed its support for issuing a request for information and request for qualifications (RFI/RFQ). The Commission also encouraged its support for concurrently pursuing funding for a community solar array that would serve low-income residents and disadvantaged communities via the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Solar For All grant program. It also discussed the importance of legislative changes that are needed at the state level to support and incentivize solar energy not only for municipal operations, but also residents, businesses and building owners.

The Commission expressed support for an RFI/RFQ process for private development of solar across the full site – where approximately 60 acres have been identified as suitable for solar. The City believes up to 16.5 megawatts (MW) could be installed. This RFI/RFQ will include two projects.

The first, which is the highest priority for the City, is the construction of approximately 1-2 MW of “behind-the-meter” (BTM) solar and infrastructure improvements on 5-10 acres that would directly supply the City’s Primary Circuit. The Primary Circuit currently receives electricity from Consumers Energy and distributes it to 18,000 streetlights, traffic signals and approximately 100 City facilities. This BTM array is estimated to increase the City’s renewable portfolio by approximately 3.8 to 7.5 percent (in 2022, renewables supplied 44.4% of the City’s electricity consumption).

The second project to be included in the RFI/RFQ will solicit innovative ideas to cost effectively deploy up to 15.5MW of solar across the landfill while maximizing localized benefits.

Mayor Rosalynn Bliss shared that, “deploying solar at Butterworth is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and we want to ensure we are seeking innovative cost-effective proposals that help advance our performance on our goals while ensuring the benefits of solar are localized right here in our community. There are many logistical, technical and legal obstacles to building solar at Butterworth, but the City is committed to finding a solution to bringing a beneficial reuse to this City-owned property located close to the heart of our city.”

The City will continue to advocate for legislation that might simplify the solar installation process for both public and private use. It also will continue to evaluate and explore funding opportunities presented through recent state and federal agencies that could maximize local benefits and affordability.

The City will seek information and qualifications from developers that have experience developing and installing solar on brownfields/landfills in Michigan and/or in combination with battery storage. Those interested in responding to the RFI/RFQ can send an email to and request to be added to the RFI/RFQ announcement. Staff anticipates releasing the RFI/RFQ by mid- to late-September, hosting a workshop this fall, issuing a Request for Proposals (RFP) for selected RFI/RFQ respondents near the end of the year and making recommendations on responses in Spring 2024.

·       Click HERE to view the Commission presentation and discussion on YouTube.

·       Click HERE to access and download the Butterworth Landfill Solar Update PDF presentation.

·       Click HERE to download view the background memo.

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