With extremes of wind, rain, and freezing winter temperatures coupled with harsh summer sun and the corrosive effects of salt on properties nearer the ocean, roofs in Coastal Maine must withstand an incredible amount of abuse. Many Maine roofs have leaks, seasoned contractors agree. In most cases, building owners are not even aware there is a problem until associated by-products such as mold, rot and water damage appear.
Such facts of life seaside undoubtedly will resonate with opponents of the proposed installation of an array of photovoltaic panels on the roof Bar Harbor’s new sand and salt shed at the public works complex off Crooked Road. It makes no sense, they argue, to drill hundreds of holes in a brand new metal roof introduced to keep a giant salt pile dry.
Proponents counter that the company with which the town may contract to do the work has installed hundreds of thousands of fasteners through metal roofing without difficulty. That company, however, only guarantees its work for five years. The expected life of a new metal roof is 20 years or more.
While an anecdotal assessment of the risk may be sufficient evidence for an individual as decision on private property, officials entrusted with insuring the integrity and soundness of public property should insist on additional documentation. Before making a decision, an opinion should be secured from an independent authority with engineering experience, or better yet, from the roofing manufacturer. The effects on longevity from drilled holes should be determined from documentation. Taxpayers who foot the bill should be fully informed as to whether the proposed installation might shorten the life of their investment. They deserve reassurance that the need for roof replacement will not arise sooner than expected.