By Phil Di Vece, News Contributor
Wiscasset Newspaper news story
A solar array that will provide some of Woolwich’s electrical needs is taking shape at the former landfill off Middle Road. The array’s metal racking system is in place awaiting the solar panels. ReVision Energy of Portland and Liberty is constructing it with no upfront costs for its design or construction. Voters approved the solar project at last April’s annual town meeting.
The project is financed through a power purchase agreement; the town agreed to buy the electricity generated from the solar array from ReVision Energy. After six years, the town has the option to purchase the system or keep buying power from it.
Select Board Chairman David King Sr. said the solar racking system located a short distance from the road was erected more than a month ago.
“The last we heard, ReVision planned to have all the solar panels in place and the system fully operational before the end of the year,” King told the Wiscasset Newspaper Monday, Nov. 20.
He said after the solar array goes online the board hopes to hold a ribbon-cutting or symbolic “flip the switch” ceremony at the site.
News of the solar array’s construction was featured within the town’s March and October newsletters. The solar array is expected to generate over 29 kilowatt hours each year and cover an estimated 95 percent of the municipal building’s electric bill.
In year seven, the town could decide to purchase the system from ReVision for a reported $47,000; new, the system costs $79,397, according to the town’s March newsletter. If the town buys the system, the cost will be eventually be covered in electrical savings.
“One of the real advantages of this project in my view is that it gives the town some control over its energy costs,” Selectman Allison Hepler commented. “Solar will be more predictable and not as subject to the price fluctuations seen in oil and natural gas. I’m pleased that residents at town meeting were thinking in terms of the long-term benefits when they voted to approve the project,” she added .
The array will have 80 panels, each warrantied for solar electricity for 25 years, which is about half of their anticipated operational life according to estimates ReVision provided the town.
ReVision has partnered with other municipalities in Maine, working on new solar farms on closed landfills in Portland and in South Portland.