By Kate Gardner
The Forecaster news story
FREEPORT — A community solar farm will soon be opening for residents who can’t have solar panels at their homes.
The solar farm will be at Maine Idyll Motor Court on U.S. Route 1. Construction expected to start in November. Nine shares in the farm are being sold by ReVision Energy of Portland.
“Solar farms are really ideal for people who want to do solar, but can’t do it on their own property,” Jennifer Hatch of ReVision said.
ReVision has been developing solar farms for two years and recently opened Maine’s first in South Paris. The company started working on Freeport’s several months ago.
The town has been trying to increase the number of solar users in Freeport by launching Solarize Freeport, but Hatch said the farm isn’t related to the town’s effort.
ReVision chose to put the solar farm at Maine Idyll Motor Court because the land is private and the lease could be long-term; the solar farm will be there for at least 40 years.
David Marstaller, owner of Maine Idyll Motor Court, said he’s glad to have the solar farm on his property. He also bought one of the nine shares.
“I am very happy to host and be a member of the first (community solar farm) in Freeport,” he said. “I think small solar farms like this are an important step for people seeking energy alternatives, but who don’t have a situation where a solar array would work optimally on their property, due to house orientation, shading, aesthetics, etc.”
Hatch said a few other shares have also been bought. They vary in size and price, from $15,000 to $30,000. Owners are eligible for a federal tax credit worth 30 percent of what they spend on a share.
A press release from ReVision Energy said the average solar farm has 200 solar panels and produces 50,000-60,000 kilowatt hours per year.
Share owners must have accounts with Central Maine Power Co. The solar energy generated at the farm will be sent to CMP, and the company will credit the shareholders for the electricity their shares generate.
Hatch said if shareholders move out of Freeport, they can keep their shares as long as they still live within CMP territory.
Hatch said ReVision Energy is hoping to create more solar farms in towns surrounding Freeport, and hopes to eventually be at a point where shares are always available for purchase.
Solar farms give more people the opportunity to use solar energy, Hatch said.
“In the past if someone couldn’t do solar (on their property), we wouldn’t be able to do anything for them,” she said. “But now we have something to offer them.”