A local Planning Board deliberated on May 6 via a virtual meeting to vote on the initial plans for new solar panels. The vote was unanimous, putting into motion additional planning stations for the new community solar program in Maine.
Members of the board voted on a new project slated for construction on two sites, one at 28.92 and the other at 11.6 acres. Both sites are at the crossroads of Route 180 and 1A and are currently owned by Bridgetwin, LLC. The program is expected to include 11,000 new panels, which will fall under the management of the investment company, SunRaise, under Mariaville Road Ellsworth Solar, LLC.
According to Pat Jackson, a representative of SunRaise, the voting was vital for the development of a new community solar program in Maine. Jackson elaborated that the legislature for the program had scheduled a launch in summer 2020 and the location of the two sites is perfect for what the state is looking for. Located near a substation and grid connection, the program is set to be built close to current infrastructure.
SunRaise is planning on using the new development as a community solar program that allows customers in Emera to benefit from the generated power. The endgame for these consumers is a discount on their current electricity bill while SunRaise will be financially secured by leasing the property back to itself. Ultimately, SunRaise aims to purchase the property outright to be both the operator and owner.
Currently, the plan for Maine’s solar program is set for the next 20 years. However, SunRaise has a plan in place should the new community solar program in Maine extend beyond that time. The hope, according to Jackson, is to not disrupt the production of renewable energy and the benefit it has for residents.
Before the solar project begins construction, it will be put in front of the Planning Board again. From there, they’ll perform a final review for the plans and decide to move forward.