December 14, 2018
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Maine town to decide whether to install solar panels at former landfill

Stock photo | Pexels
Stock photo | Pexels

Voters in Tremont are expected to weigh in next week on whether the town should allow solar panels to be installed at the town’s closed landfill site.

A vote in favor of the proposal would allow the town to move forward with a proposal from Searsport-based Sundog Solar to install as many as 500 solar panels at the site on Harbor Drive, which is next to the town office, Tremont Town Manager Christopher Saunders said. The site has been closed for use as a landfill since 1996.

The project is one of many solar energy projects that are being developed on municipally owned properties throughout Maine. The cost and generation capacity of solar power cells, along with environmental concerns and the increasing costs of fossil fuels, are making such projects increasingly popular cross the country, even in places where the power and consistency of available sunlight was once thought to be too weak for the technology to be viable.

The Tremont project, which likely would be functional by early 2019, is projected to generate 192,000 kilowatt hours in its first year and to decline slightly thereafter by about 50 kilowatt hours per year for 25 years, Saunders said. In Maine, the average home consumed nearly 550 kilowatt hours per month in 2016, according to the federal Energy Information Administration.

The town is not being asked to invest any funds to bring the project to fruition, Saunders said. The proposal gives the town the option of buying the panels and associated infrastructure after six years.

The town will be given a discount on its electricity rates if the project is approved, he said. Tremont currently pays on average between 17 and 18 cents per kilowatt hour, he said. It would pay 12.5 cents per kilowatt hour — for a savings of about 28 percent — after the panels are brought online.

“That’s why we’re doing it,” he said of the expected reduced energy costs.

The special town meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Aug. 6 at the town office at the corner of routes 102 and 102A in the village of Bass Harbor.

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