BAR HARBOR — A community solar farm (CSF) at the Public Works facility on the Crooked Road is set to be installed, after councilors approved the lease agreement last week. Photovoltaic panels will be mounted on the pole barn at the Public Works complex.
The CSF has been in the works for several years. At the town meeting in June 2015, voters authorized the Town Council to enter into long-term lease agreements for the purpose of developing CSFs. There are other solar farms in Maine, but this will be the first to be created in partnership with a town, on municipal land.
Local residents and businesses investing in the CSF have formed a mutual-benefit nonprofit corporation, Bar Harbor Community Solar Association, to own and manage the project.
The members are Lisa Ireland and Joshua Ehrlich of Bar Harbor, Leonard DeMuro of Bar Harbor, Jennifer Wales of Mount Desert, Kenneth and Beverly Paigen of Bar Harbor, Ken and Jacquie Colburn of Bar Harbor and Pemetic Investments/Peekytoe Provisions of Tremont and Bar Harbor.
The lease agreement, to be filed in the Hancock County Registry of Deeds, is for 25 years with two five-year options to renew. Annual rent to the town is set at $888 and will increase at 2 percent per year.
This summer, councilors agreed to donate the private electrical service line and equipment at the facility to Emera Maine, allowing them to make a connection to the solar farm.
“The growth of solar in Maine, and specifically the recent interest in community solar projects, has really taken off,” said John Luft of Maine solar company ReVision Energy last year. “Off-site solar means that downtown businesses, historic inns, and homes without great roofs can finally make solar a reality, all while building community and localizing energy.”
The system design includes 188 solar panels that should produce roughly 60,000 kwh of electricity and offset 27 tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually.