Bases for solar panels waiting to be installed at the former town dump in Tremont. The Sundog Solar team working on the installation is hoping to have it complete by the end of the year. ISLANDER PHOTO BY SARAH HINCKLEY

Solar array installers hope to finish by end of year



TREMONT — Soggy weather and wet grounds have made installation of the solar array and power transformer at the former town dump a messy and slow-moving process.

Working to get the proposed 500 panels installed by the end of December is a race against the clock that Sundog Solar co-owner and project manager Danny Piper is aiming to win. That race is based on a new state law that phases out net metering for solar systems. All systems installed this year will get a 90 percent discount for transmission and distribution fees charged by utility companies within the state and be grandfathered into that discount for the next 15 years.

If the project were to go into 2019, that percent of savings on net metering would drop to 80 percent and could be made up over time with use of the system, according to Piper.

Currently, the bases for the arrays are parked in a lot just below the closed landfill where they will soon be installed. Red flags are beginning to pepper the surface of the landfill to mark where they’ll go.

Tremont is the first town in the area to vote to install a solar array on a closed landfill. Savings from the array are expected to reach $400,000 in electricity costs over the next 25 years.

At the base of the hill leading up the landfill, Sundog Solar crew members have been working on installing a transformer and connecting to the Emera power lines.

Last week, the transformer was in a pool of muddy water that was constantly being pumped out. That was prior to the rains that fell throughout the weekend.

Piper said the rain and mud are easy enough to work around; it’s the extreme cold temperatures that make things move slower.

Sarah Hinckley

Sarah Hinckley

Sarah Hinckley covers the towns of Southwest Harbor, Tremont and neighboring islands. Send story ideas and information to shinckley@mdislander.com.