Town Councilor Gary Friedmann gave the opening remarks at a dedication event Oct. 29 for the new photovoltaic system at the town’s Public Works facility. PHOTO BY LIZ GRAVES

Emera: Solar array a first

BAR HARBOR — Solar power company ReVision energy is nearly ready to flip the switch on a new photovoltaic system on the town’s Public Works building, project manager John Luft said at a dedication ceremony Oct. 29.

“As a company, we’re doing more and more of these in the state,” Luft said. “It’s a very exciting time, and we really applaud Bar Harbor for taking the lead on this.”

The solar array includes 288 panels mounted on the roof with heavy-duty clips. Cables come into the building, where inverters change the power from DC to AC current, Luft said. There’s a transformer to adjust the voltage to match what’s coming in from the grid, then it ties into an electrical panel. “The electricity being generated will be utilized here, and if we create excess power, that will go off to the grid,” he said. An arrangement with power company Emera Maine called “net billing” means that Emera can credit the town’s account associated with the meters at the facility for any power fed back into the grid. It’s the first municipal photovoltaic system in Emera Maine’s service area, Councilor Gary Friedmann said.

“I have to be honest, I was a skeptic,” Town Council Chairman Paul Paradis said. “I asked a lot of questions, as did other councilors. But in the end, through a thorough review process and working with ReVision, we were all shown that this project really pencils out.

“In August, the Town Council unanimously approved the power purchase agreement (PPA),” he continued. “This agreement provides the town with market-rate electricity produced from these panels. In other words, electricity for about what we’re paying now. However at the end of six years, the town can purchase the solar array at fair market value, estimate to be about $80,000. After that, we should be producing power at a cost below market rates, even while factoring in that $80,000 purchase.”

He thanked Friedmann for spearheading this effort through town meeting and council review, ReVision for proposing this PPA and Public Works Director Chip Reeves for his help and cooperation.

A representative from Emera, grid modernization manager Kevin Peterson, said the company is an enthusiastic partner in the PPA project with ReVision and the town. “The transition to clean energy is a key piece of our strategy at Emera Maine and across all of Emera’s business,” he said. “We see the grid as a means to a cleaner, more energy-efficient future, not only transitioning electricity to cleaner sources but also providing a path for transition in transportation and heating.”

He also acknowledged the active participation of many Bar Harbor residents with Emera projects here in the last few years. “We truly appreciate all of the input, engagement and support,” he said.

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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