Engineers and planners examining the future possible site of a major solar farm in Maine take note of the lack of trees and possible tree growth—a key feature in siting a solar installation. PHOTO BY GOULDSBORO SOLAR LLC

Lab eyes solar farm



GOULDSBORO — A portion of a former Navy base here may become the home of Maine’s largest solar farm.

And the Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor may be one of its first customers.

But the $9.5 million installation with 9,500 photo-voltaic panels hinges on the Legislature’s passage of a bill to institute solar renewable energy credits, or SRECs.

“I will need this to make it worthwhile,” the developer, Kimball Kenway of Portland, told the planning board April 7.

He said the site off the Corea Road is attractive to his company, Gouldsboro Solar LLC, for the same reason it was once appealing as a Navy communications facility.

A site in Corea once used by the Navy for intelligence gathering could become the new home of the largest solar power installation in Maine. Known locally as the “elephant cages,” the radar site is now barren. PHOTO BY GOULDSBORO SOLAR LLC

A site in Corea once used by the Navy for intelligence gathering could become the new home of the largest solar power installation in Maine. Known locally as the “elephant cages,” the radar site is now barren.
PHOTO BY GOULDSBORO SOLAR LLC

“There is no shade and trees, which are the bane of solar projects, and it’s surrounded by a peat bog, which will have no tree growth,” Kenway said.

The bill, LD 1263, is sponsored by Rep. Sara Gideon (D-Freeport) House Assistant Majority Leader, and cosponsored by Reps. Richard Malaby (R-Hancock) and Brian Hubbell (D-Bar Harbor), among others.

John Fitzpatrick, the senior facilities director at the lab, said adding solar power to its energy mix is an attractive proposition.

“The pure economics of the deal just make sense,” he said. “This will allow us to lock in the purchase of a significant portion of our power needs at a low fixed rate for a very long period.”

The proposal would require utilities to raise the required share of new solar power in their renewable energy portfolios to 2.5 percent by 2022.

The bill also would create renewable energy credits for solar power. The credits could be sold to power suppliers to meet the growing portfolio requirement.

Kenway said he purchased the 12.6 acres of land from owners of Maine Halibut Farm, which abandoned their plans to raise fish on the property.

Kenway said the bill has support on both sides of the aisle.

“Solar farms are very capital-intensive, but there’s no fuel cost.”

Kenway said the project must be completed by the end of 2016 to take advantage of a 30 percent federal tax credit for solar panels.

Jacqueline Weaver

Jacqueline Weaver

Reporter at The Ellsworth American
Jacqueline's beat covers the eastern Hancock County towns of Lamoine through Gouldsboro as well as Steuben in Washington County. She was a reporter for the New York Times, United Press International and Reuters before moving to Maine. She also publicized medical research at Yale School of Medicine and scientific findings at Yale University for nine years.[email protected]

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