Maine’s premier community solar facility in Monson became operational in December, serving local communities and residents. Generating 156-kilowatts of energy, the system has begun to offset power use from upwards of 20 regional businesses and local homeowners and tenants. The facility was constructed on an acre of land and was developed with just under 400 solar panels.
Maine Community Power’s co-founder, Tyler Adkins, states the importance of the project, emphasizing the reduction of carbon that the Monson community solar facility causes. Adkins also noted that the project would generate money for participating neighborhoods and small businesses. Subscribers to the community solar installation are eligible for a credit that will reduce their monthly utility bill.
Potential subscribers can join the program at no upfront cost. Participating in the program comes with no long-term contract, allowing residents to cancel and back out of the agreement at no cost. The only requirement is a 30-day notice. Maine’s first community solar program is expected to result in a $200,000 savings for subscribers over the first 20 years of the project. These savings will come from Maine’s net energy billing program. The community solar facility is expected to remain operational for 40 years.
The state’s first solar project was developed with the option for a future pollinator habitat and “agrivoltaics,” which further blends agricultural projects into the solar facility. According to Kyle Clark, Maine Community Power’s second co-founder noted that additional opportunities to improve the environment are available beyond the solar facility. Clark stated that Maine Community Power will continue to observe new ways to improve the site’s economic, social, and environmental impacts.
Behind the development of the facility was Insource Renewables. During construction and development, Insource was responsible for bringing in jobs. According to CEO Vaughan Woodruff, it also improved the local grid and improved accessibility to affordable solar for homeowners and tenants. Due to the high cost of solar panels, community solar serves as a bridge between renewable energy and undeserved communities.