The Bangor City Council could soon take another step toward installing solar panels on city property and using the resulting power to offset municipal electric costs.
On Monday night, members of the council’s finance committee unanimously voted to recommend that the city keep working with ReVision Energy on a proposal to build solar panels on an unused municipal site at 611 Maine Ave., near the Bangor International Airport.
With that recommendation, the City Council will vote next week on whether to sign a letter of intent with ReVision and make a down payment of up to $67,125 to the company. Under the proposal, the city would also pay $2,500 to the firm Competitive Energy Services to negotiate a contract with ReVision.
Revision, which has an office in Liberty, is one of three solar installers that responded to the city’s request for proposals last March to install panels on the Maine Avenue site. If councilors approve the letter of intent next week, both sides would keep negotiating a contract that would eventually have to go back to the City Council for approval.
Many details still need to be worked out, including whether it is more cost-effective for the city to buy the panels outright, lease them from another party or enter a power-purchase agreement in which the city would just buy the power that the panels generate. If the city does enter a power-purchase agreement, ReVision would reimburse it for the down payment.
If the city owns the panels, it would essentially sell the power that they generate back onto the grid and receive a corresponding credit on the power that is used by its various departments. If it moves forward with the proposal, the panels could be installed by the fall of 2020, said Tanya Emery, the city’s director of community and economic development.
ReVision previously did a study for the city showing that a power-purchase agreement could cut its net electric costs over the next 40 years to $2 million, down from $6 million if it kept relying on traditional utilities.
The property at 611 Maine Ave. was previously used for the handling of compressed natural gas by Energy West Resources Inc., the parent company of Bangor Gas Co.
Before recommending the proposal on Monday night, Councilor Ben Sprague said that beyond the environmental and financial benefits that would come from installing a solar array near the Bangor International Airport, it would present any out-of-town visitors driving past it with a “symbol of our commitment to clean energy.”