Lamoine to vote on proposed solar farm

LAMOINE — Solar energy projects have been springing up across Maine over the past year, and Lamoine may be next.

The town will hold a special meeting at 7 p.m. Thursday night for residents to vote on whether to allow the Board of Selectmen to enter into an agreement with the California-based SunPower Corp. to install a solar farm near the town’s former landfill.

“We put in a request for a proposal this summer and there is municipal land that would bode well for a solar installation,” said Lamoine Administrative Assistant Stu Marckoon. “So we’re at the point to ask the town for some specific direction for the selectmen to negotiate an agreement with them.”

If approved, SunPower’s installation would cover roughly 13 acres of land surrounding the town’s landfill, located behind Lamoine’s transfer station. An initial plan to cover the landfill itself with solar panels was modified after a site survey determined it was not feasible.

The 3.5-5 megawatt project would be on land leased to the company by the town for an initial period of 20 years, during which time SunPower would pay an annual fee currently estimated between $46,000 and $72,000 per year, depending on the amount of trees cleared from the surrounding property.

Marckoon said the town also may have the opportunity to establish a power-purchase agreement with SunPower under which it could purchase electricity at a fixed price, although that would be negotiated at a later date.

SunPower would be responsible for the cost of construction and maintenance during the lease.

The project would necessitate extending three-phase power lines to the site.

“The three-phase power currently stops at the [Lamoine Consolidated School] and we’d have to extend that, so that is something we’d have to negotiate,” Marckoon said.

As part of its proposal, SunPower has offered to provide a STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) educational program to the local school system.

The project would be one of many that are in development around the state.

Recent legislation signed into to law by Governor Janet Mills to promote solar projects and encourage clean-energy development has made the state more attractive to developers.

Last year, the town of Tremont installed around 500 solar panels at its landfill. And this past summer Mount Desert Island High School and the Cranberry Isles Fishermen’s Co-op completed the installation of solar panels expected to fully offset their energy consumption.

Plans for a large solar farm in Township 16 were approved in February.

In Lamoine, SunPower proposes to sell power directly to Emera.

“Our part in this is that because a municipality is an easy landlord, it’s beneficial to the company. The Conservation Commission and the Select Board have been working to get the ball rolling,” Marckoon said. “The next step after the [town] meeting would be for SunPower to begin applying for grants to help cover construction costs for building it.”

Voting will take place at 7 p.m. on Thursday before the next selectmen’s meeting.

“We’re pretty excited about this,” Marckoon said. “It’s one of those things that would be a win-win for the town.”

Maxwell Hauptman

Maxwell Hauptman

Reporter at The Ellsworth American
Maxwell Hauptman joined The Ellsworth American as a reporter in 2018. He can be reached at [email protected]
Maxwell Hauptman

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