FARMINGTON — A Yarmouth-based company is considering property on the Farmington Falls Road for a potential large, industrial solar farm.
Ranger Solar is undertaking environmental investigations to determine how large the project can be. But, there is still a long road ahead, said Aaron Svedlow, project manager.
The company wants to create a 50- to 80-megawatt farm. Four to five acres are needed per megawatt, Svedlow said.
Although Svedlow declined to confirm the owner of the property, L. Herbert “Bussie” York said the company has approached him about using land at his Sandy River Farms.
“There are many steps ahead,” York said. “They are still sorting it out and we’re still farming as usual.”
York said the project is a long way from being achieved.
Once a proposed plan is completed, including permitting, Svedlow does not expect construction would start until 2018 at the earliest.
The Farmington Planning Board met with Svedlow late last year.
“We went to introduce the concept, see how the town would handle it and what the next steps might be,” he said. He foresees “substantial benefits to the town and region through taxes and jobs during construction.”
The board has recently reviewed a proposed performance standard to cover solar energy for inclusion in the town’s zoning ordinance, Code Enforcement Officer J. Stevens Kaiser said.
The proposed performance standard will provide the parameters for the board to review applications for the Ranger Solar project, Kaiser said.
The farmland is under consideration because of its proximity to a substation next to Good Times Unlimited. The project would plug into the existing grid or electrical infrastructure, Svedlow said.
No power purchase agreements have been made. The project has to be designed first. An online application for a renewable energy project suggests potential power supplies may go to southern Maine, Massachusetts and New Jersey.
The solar farm uses the same technology as used in your own backyard, only there is more of it, Svedlow said. There are panels but no concrete foundation is needed. Grass can grow around it. Unlike wind projects that can be seen for miles, solar farms can be screened by trees or fences to reduce the visual impact.
Limited gravel roads may be necessary but Svedlow said he does not expect any buildings to be constructed.
Svedlow said power can be produced from sunny days year-round. Peak hours are early afternoon, which coincides with peak energy use in Maine and New England, he said.
“There is no one solution to our energy needs,” Svedlow said. “Germany and Europe have the most solar power projects and they are farther north than Maine. It puts it in perspective.”
The proposed project typically has a lifespan of 25 to 30, maybe 40 years, he said. Funds are included in the plan for decommissioning once the project is over.