PORTLAND, Maine — The Maine Public Utilities Commission expects the state’s largest solar power project to date — planned for Waldo County — to come online later this year.

The project is one of four pilot projects that won the ability to enter long-term contracts with the state’s two major utilities, pending local approval. The PUC announced the winners for the pilot program in December. On Friday, it released an order outlining more details about each.

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The largest project of the four is the 9.9-megawatt solar farm proposal in the town of Monroe, a project with 70 percent ownership held by Cianbro Development Corp. and 30 percent by solar developer Clear Energy LLC.

In order to qualify as a pilot project under the state law that created the program in 2009, a qualifying local company must have a majority stake in the project.

The Monroe project would receive 8.5 cents per kilowatt hour, the lowest of the four projects. It still requires local support, according to the PUC, but is anticipated to enter operation this fall.

The commission also approved Georges River Energy, held by members of the family that owns Robbins Lumber in Searsmont, which would use wood waste from the sawmill and local logging contractors to fuel a 7.5-megawatt biomass system that produces both heat and electricity.

It expects to come online in early 2018 and would receive 9.9 cents per kilowatt hour. The pilot projects set a maximum bid of 10 cents per kilowatt hour to qualify.

And a wind power project originally proposed for land in Fort Fairfield moved a mile north in its final iteration, on 100 acres of farmland in Limestone. The wind power project is from Shamrock Partners, led by Freeport resident Sue Jones.

Jones had proposed and won pilot project approval for the Fort Fairfield site, but that plan was essentially killed, she told the BDN last fall, by an ordinance for wind projects that established a one-mile setback from landowners not involved in the project.

That project would receive 8.3 cents per kilowatt hour and still requires a local resolution of support. The project is expected to come online by at least late 2018.

The PUC also approved a combined solar and hydropower system near the American Woolen Mill in Dover-Foxcroft, with a combined capacity of 396 kilowatts, the smallest of the group. It would receive 10 cents per kilowatt hour.

Darren Fishell

Darren is a Portland-based reporter for the Bangor Daily News writing about the Maine economy and business. He's interested in putting economic data in context and finding the stories behind the numbers.