EDGECOMB, Maine (NEWS CENTER) — A new solar energy project in the mid coast could be the start of more, large- scale solar development around the state.
The Edgecomb Community Solar Farm is jointly owned by nine families, who pooled their money to build the 182-panel solar array. But unlike typical residential solar projects, this one does not feed any of the investors’ homes. Instead, the electricity goes into the CMP grid, and the power company then credits the monthly power bill of each member, based on their share in the project. Those who put larger amounts of money into the project can expect a larger portion of their monthly bill to be offset by the credits. The investors said it will reduce their electric bills for many years to come.
Revision Energy, which built the $180,000 system, said they have number of other people around the state interested in creating their own solar farms. John Luft of Revision says the solar farm concept is ideal for people who don’t live in a spot appropriate for solar panels, but still want to take some steps to reduce their consumption of fossil fuels through electricity. He said the farm arrangement even makes it possible for people living in apartments to invest in solar power.
There are limitations to the concept. State law restricts the number of people who can join together for a solar farm to a maximum of 10. Under current law, investors can’t actually make money from the system; they can only earn credits equal to their total annual electric bill, and can’t get paid for any extra power generated. John Carroll of CMP said those and other related issues are being studied now by a state task force that’s evaluating Maine’s current regulations for solar energy projects the put power into the grid.
Revision Energy said it is currently talking with people about as many as six other solar farm projects around the state. That includes one in Rockland, where a group of businesses would be the investors. Revision says that project could have as many as a thousand solar panels.