Midcoast Solar, LLC, a New Harbor solar developer, presented a community solar proposal for a 12.7-acre farm. Part of the proposal was that Bristol residents would be able to buy into the farm and benefit from renewable energy from a local source. Midcoast Solar presented the framework for its plan at the Bristol Planning Board and is currently seeking two separate building permits for the project. As part of the new project, the solar developer is looking to build the 12.7-acre farm on two properties.
The community solar proposal is currently in the town’s hands. Once the planning board determines a decision, Midcoast Solar will be able to pay all required permitting fees and submit an official application to lay out how the farms will be constructed and managed. According to the initial proposal, the farm will meet the state’s cap of 5-megawatts.
Due to legislation passed in 2019, residents living in the utility area that the community solar farm is built will have access to the program. Subscribers can enjoy the perks of solar energy without having to build costly rooftop panels. Local law also states that they will receive a monthly credit on their utility bill via net metering.
Based on Bristol’s current land-use ordinance, there is a $.15 per square foot fee for unheated commercial structures. This fee is based on the megawatts of the farm, as well as the square footage of the property, but the town does not have a specific provision for solar farms. Whether or not the fee could be more or less for Midcoast Solar has yet to be revealed.
Though the planning board expected to have an answer for the community solar proposal by Sept. 2, it has yet to announce its decision. Until then, Midcoast won’t be able to take any action on this proposal.
When approved and constructed, there will be no charge to subscribe to the community solar farm. According to Midcoast Solar rep Nathaniel Curtis, all the company wants to do is provide the clean energy at a discount that matches a household’s annual usage. When the farm comes online, it will generate a specific amount of energy that is then credited to subscribers of the program.