Brewer's planning board on Monday approved a site review plan that's an early step toward the construction of a rotating solar tracking system that could be online in 2023. Credit: Bill Trotter / BDN

Brewer could see a new solar panel installation that rotates with the sun as soon as 2023.

The city planning board voted Monday to approve a site review plan that would allow Maine DG Hold Co. to begin the process of building a rotating solar tracking system near Wiswell Road. 

The system would rotate as it tracked the sun’s movements across the sky and reset at night instead of operating at a fixed tilt like conventional solar panel arrays, Kara Moody told the planning board at a meeting Monday. 

Moody is a project manager for Stantec, a consulting firm that is working with Longroad Energy on the project. 

The system would generate almost 5 megawatts of energy and take advantage of a 2019 law change that allows businesses to sign onto local solar projects and receive credits on their electric bills, said Chad Allen, a Longroad Energy development manager.

The tracker would be located in the city’s rural and low density residential districts on a lot near 261 Wiswell Road, close to the city’s border with Orrington. 

Tracking systems have a guaranteed production age of 25 years, after which the panels would need to be recycled, Allen said. 

The cost of decommissioning solar panels has been a concern for at least one nearby town, Dixmont, as Penobscot County has seen a spate of applications from developers seeking approval to install solar arrays. 

“What I’m committed to right now is that they’ll be disposed of in concert with state and federal law,” Allen said. “So right now they’re considered general waste. Recycling is coming along in leaps and bounds right to the old adage, ‘If you build it, they will come.’” 

The project’s next steps will be to secure approval from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, Allen said. If all goes well, the project would be online by early 2023, he said. 

Lia Russell

Lia Russell is a reporter on the city desk for the Bangor Daily News. Send tips to LRussell@bangordailynews.com.