MOUNT DESERT — The Acadia-area League of Towns board last heard a pitch Sept. 29 from a representative of a Boston-based company that builds community solar farms, which towns, school districts and businesses of all sizes can tap into and potentially save money on electricity.
Rebecca Noyes, community solar associate with BlueWave Solar, said that because of a ruling last year by the Maine Utilities Commission, “Customers are now allowed to subscribe to a local community solar project and receive dollar bill credits on their utility bills, which translates to savings.”
She said a meter at the solar farm counts the number of kilowatt hours that are being generated.
“Then at the end of a given month, your [electric] utility says, ‘This amount of kilowatt hours is worth X dollar credits.’”
Noyes said the power company then distributes those credits to the subscribers.
“We would essentially take a look at what your municipality spends per year on its electricity costs, and then we would say, ‘OK, you get this chunk of the community solar farm because that’s the right amount to reduce your electricity bill.’”
She said BlueWave has built more than 50 community solar projects in Massachusetts and is working on 14 projects in Maine, including in Orrington and Hampden.
In addition to signing up municipalities, she said, “We also work with some manufacturers and corporations, colleges and universities, and hospitals and healthcare networks,” Noyes said. “MaineHealth is so large that they will actually be taking five entire community farms from BlueWave.”
She said a municipality might take only 20 percent of the power generated by a solar farm, with other customers taking the rest.
Discounts on electricity bills would start at 15 percent, Noyes said, “But we are willing to work with municipalities to get you up to a level that works for you.”
Most of the money saved would go to BlueWave, with small percentage being retained by the city or town.
The League of Towns board is composed of town managers and other officials from 10 municipalities in the greater MDI area.
“If you would like to see what (community solar) could look like for you,” she told the board members, “we would review a year’s worth of your utility bills and put together an analysis that says, ‘You should take this chunk of a solar farm, and this is what your savings would look like.’”
She said solar farms do not have to be located near their customers, as long as both the farm and the customers are in the service area of the same power company, such as Versant.