$4.4M solar farm proposed off Rt. 1 in Gouldsboro

GOULDSBORO — Borrego Solar Systems Inc. is proposing to build a 5,050-panel solar farm on a 14-acre site reached via the Tower Road from Route 1.

The transnational company has already secured a 20-year lease from the property owner for the $4.4 million project, which would possibly be built by mid-2022.

At its 6 p.m. meeting next Tuesday, Nov. 16, the Planning Board is expecting to learn more from Borrego’s civil engineer David Albrecht about the fire suppression features in the proposed solar farm’s battery banks that would store the captured solar energy on site.

Board members want to know exactly how many homes would benefit from the proposed solar farm. A rough estimate of 647 households was quoted at the board’s Nov. 2 meeting where Albrecht and company staffers made an initial presentation via Zoom.

Planning Board Chairman Ray Jones says Borrego’s proposed solar installation is the first of its kind to be applied for in Gouldsboro. Six years ago, Portland developer Kimball Kenway proposed a $9.5 million solar installation at the U.S. Navy’s former Corea radar station, but that project never materialized.

Jones says the board is studying Borrego’s site-plan application, but he does not expect a public hearing to take place until next year. At present, he notes the proposed 188-acre site is only visible from the air and the project will require extending the Tower Road farther inland. The road extension must meet current town standards.

Jones says Tower Road currently has two residences.

“It looks like this [project] is going to be 2,000 feet — close to half a mile — from Route 1,” he said Tuesday.

Founded in 1980, Borrego Solar specializes in siting, engineering, building and seeing solar and energy storage projects through state and federal permitting processes. The San Diego-headquartered company then either sells the solar installations or is contracted to run and maintain them for other entities.

Borrego’s New England office, located in Lowell, Mass., is spearheading the Gouldsboro project. Borrego Solar Systems has in hand a 20-year lease from property owner Ken Briggs of Dexter. The company also secured two five-year lease extensions given solar installations’ life expectancy of 25 to 45 years, according to Jones.

For its Gouldsboro project, Borrego is leasing 188 acres from Briggs. The 5,050-panel array would occupy 7.8 acres within a 14-acre area framed by 7-foot-tall chain-link fencing.

In its site plan application, under state law, Borrego is required to include a bond that spells out the protocol and estimated cost for the solar farm’s owner to dismantle a solar installation when its lifespan ends. That cost is updated, in accordance with inflation, every five years.

In Borrego’s site plan application, Jones said the company would receive a building permit for a nonresidential permanent structure. The Maine Department of Environmental Protection and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers also will assess the project’s impact on wetlands and stormwater runoff and other issues as part of the state and federal agencies’ permitting process.

Letitia Baldwin

Arts Editor at The Ellsworth American
In addition to editing the Arts & Leisure section, Letitia edits special sections including Out & About, Overview, Health Quarterly, Your Maine Home, House & Garden and Get Ready for Winter. She comes from Chicago, Ill, but has deep family ties to the Cranberry Isles. [email protected]

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