This aerial photo of the solar pane array on the roof of Mount Desert Island High School was taken when installation was about 75 percent complete. PHOTO COURTESY OF SUNDOG SOLAR

School to celebrate its new solar array; Ceremony set for Sept. 18



BAR HARBOR — Mount Desert Island High School will celebrate the completion of its solar panel array — the largest at any high school in Maine — with a ribbon-cutting ceremony next Wednesday, Sept. 18 at 12:30 p.m. in the school’s gym.

Local school officials and high school students will talk about the importance of the solar project, as will two members of the Maine Legislature, House Speaker Sara Gideon and Rep. Brian Hubbell of Bar Harbor.

Sundog Solar has spent much of the summer installing 1,450 solar panels on the high school’s roof. The array will generate enough electricity over the course of a year to entirely offset the school’s electricity consumption and will save the school an estimated $1.3 million in electricity costs over the next 25 years.

The array is nearly three times as large as the ground-mount solar array Sundog built for Tremont on the town’s former landfill.

“I am filled with gratitude that we have this opportunity to lead the way in our state in such a critical and timely undertaking,” MDI High School Principal Matt Haney said in a statement released by A Climate to Thrive, a non-profit organization working toward energy independence for MDI by 2030.

The project was inspired by Drew Rich, a 2017 graduate of the high school, whose senior exhibition project was a proposal to install a solar array to help meet the school’s electricity needs. The school’s Eco Team helped provide feedback on the bid proposals and the high school trustees approved the project earlier this year.

Sundog installed the solar panels and associated equipment at no cost to the high school. Once the system is up and running, the school will pay Sundog 19 cents per kilowatt hour for the electricity it uses. The school has been paying Emera Maine 17cents per kilowatt hour for a total of about $110,000 a year.

After seven years, the school will have the option to buy the solar power system from Sundog for $364,500. From then on, the school would pay nothing for the electricity generated.

Electric vehicle charging stations

An electric vehicle charging station has also recently been installed at the high school, funded by another program of A Climate to Thrive.

“The electricity used is paid through the OpConnect network by the EV driver, so there is no cost to the high school for electricity,” ACTT representatives said in a statement.

ReVision Energy did the installation of the new charging station.

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