A drawing of the solar panel array planned for office portion of the Bar Harbor Public Works building off the Crooked Road. PHOTO COURTESY OF REVISION ENERGY

Council approves two solar projects

BAR HARBOR — ReVision Energy is set to install a solar panel array on the office portion of the Public Works building in the next few months. The Town Council on Tuesday gave unanimous approval of a 20-year Power Purchase Agreement (PPA). In addition, the council also authorized Town Manager Cornell Knight to sign a letter of intent with ReVision Energy to establish a Community Solar Farm (CSF) with a ground-mounted solar array at the Public Works facility.

The solar array will be owned and paid for by ReVision and supply electricity to the town at a set rate. After six years of use, the town has the option to purchase the system at fair market value, currently estimated to be $79,600. The formula for calculating fair market value was adjusted in the town’s favor from the draft agreement proposed to the council in July. The purchase, if it happens, nullifies the PPA.

The terms of the agreement were negotiated by a committee including Knight, councilors Paul Paradis and Gary Friedmann, Public Works Director Chip Reeves and Warrant Committee member Seth Libby. They met with Steve Hinchman, director of financing for the solar nonprofit.

“The committee was comfortable after the changes were incorporated,” Friedmann said. They unanimously supported recommending the agreement to the council. Knight said the town attorney reviewed the agreement and had no concerns about it.

Councilor Burt Barker asked if concerns about damage to the roof had been adequately addressed. A memo from Hinchman, Friedmann said, states that ReVision stands by their work and would accept responsibility for any damage done by the system. Reeves noted that the roof has a lower slope than the salt shed, where an installation had been proposed previously. The panels clip on and do not require any penetration through the metal roof.

The CSF project, planned for the edge of the Public Works site behind the pole barn abutting land owned by Paul MacQuinn, is still under consideration for the future. This project would provide power to a small group of residents willing to invest in the construction of the system. ReVision has several CSFs in the state. This would be the first to be sited on municipal land. With a signed letter of intent with the town, Friedmann said, ReVision can get estimates for necessary site work and prepare cost estimates and revenue projections for potential investors. Once that is complete they can create a prospectus and recruit investors.

Reeves said he was not concerned that the CSF array would interfere with public works activities. “Are we painting ourselves into a corner? No, it’s right along the property line,” he said.

Councilor David Bowden expressed concerns that, while not needed now, the space chosen for the CSF would be needed by the town in the future.

“I have concerns, but it is what the voters voted on at town meeting,” he said. The vote authorizing Knight to sign the letter of intent was unanimous.

Several councilors thanked Friedmann for his work over the last year on these projects.

Liz Graves

Liz Graves

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Former Islander reporter and editor Liz Graves grew up in California and came to Maine as a schooner sailor.

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