OWLS HEAD, Maine ― The Knox County Regional Airport might soon be home to a $10-million solar farm that could make operations there more environmentally and financially sustainable.
Knox County Commissioners will select a solar company to head the project later this month.
The solar farm would produce enough energy to power the airport and could generate about $700,000 annually for the airport, according to the airport manager.
“It would make [the airport] completely financially independent from the taxpayer,” Knox County Regional Airport Manager Jeremy Shaw said, since the airport would be able to sell energy to more than 200 customers. The airport is now partly funded by taxpayers.
The 5-megawatt solar farm would comprise about 16,000 to 17,000 solar panels located on 30 acres that Knox County owns near the airport.
County and airport officials have explored the idea of a solar farm for at least a couple years, according to Shaw. Under previous proposals, the solar array would’ve been owned by a third party and the airport would’ve leased it, Shaw said.
However, thanks to $17.9 million the airport received through the federal CARES Act in April, the airport is able to purchase its own solar facility outright.
“We realized if we invested this money into a solar development it would help the airport financially in the future,” Shaw said.
Knox County has received two bids from solar contractors to construct the project, Maine-based ReVision Energy, with a bid of $10.3 million, and California-based Synergy Solar, with a bid of about $10 million.
Shaw said that the project would make Knox County Regional Airport one of many small airports across Maine looking into solar.
“This is a huge trend,” Shaw said.