Maine’s first community solar farm to serve residential customers begins operations in Monson
MONSON — The first community solar project to serve residential and small business subscribers under legislation passed in 2019 began operations in December. The 156kW system has a one acre footprint and is comprised of 396 solar panels, offsetting energy use from 20 local residents and businesses.
“In an era of increasing power outages, climate change, and economic uncertainty, this project is our small part to reduce carbon emissions and put money back in the pockets of our friends and neighbors,” says Tyler Adkins, co-founder of Maine Community Power.
Subscribers receive a discount on their monthly power bill, with no initial cost or long-term contract. They have the ability to opt out at any time with 30 days notice. Subscribers will save over $200,000 in the first 20 years of the project through participation in the state’s net energy billing program. The project is expected to operate for 40 years.
“As the owner of a small business, I’m always looking for ways to reduce our energy costs,” said Joy Bueschen from Turning Page Farm. “And as a farmer, climate change is one of my top concerns. We’re thrilled to participate in a local community solar project that allows us to both save money and reduce our carbon footprint.”
The cutting-edge project implements several industry best practices, including landscaping for pollinator habitat and research on “agrivoltaics,” a method that integrates agricultural production into solar projects.
“Solar projects provide an excellent opportunity to “stack” ecosystem services by utilizing the land underneath the solar panels,” says co-founder Kyle Clark. “In addition to establishing native pollinator habitat, Maine Community Power will engage in innovative agrivoltaic research to quantify the impact of specialty crop production under solar panels. Our aim is to contribute new findings and practical strategies that will further enhance the environmental, economic, and social outcomes of solar projects.”
Pittsfield-based Insource Renewables completed the installation. Insource Renewables CEO Vaughan Woodruff said the project was of particular interest to the company due to Maine Community Power’s emphasis on serving local subscribers. “This project highlights the unique opportunity solar development offers to rural Maine communities,” said Woodruff. “This project supports local jobs, contributes to long term grid hardening efforts, and reduces barriers to solar for local residents who might not have a good site for solar where they live, might be renters, or might not be in a financial position to finance a small system of their own.”
The project is fully subscribed, though interested CMP customers can sign up on the waitlist for additional opportunities coming online this spring. To learn more, visit mainecommunitypower.com or https://www.facebook.com/MaineCommunityPower.