Voters in Tremont on Monday approved a proposal to construct a solar power array at the town’s closed landfill.
Chris Saunders, Tremont’s town manager, said that approximately 35 voters approved the measure at a special town meeting. With the approval, Searsport-based Sundog Solar is expected to install as many as 500 solar panels at the site on Harbor Drive, which is next to the town office. The site has been closed for use as a landfill since 1996.
The project is one of many solar energy projects that are being developed on municipally owned properties throughout Maine. The cost and generation capacity of solar power cells, along with environmental concerns and the increasing costs of fossil fuels, are making such projects increasingly popular cross the country, even in places where the power and consistency of available sunlight was once thought to be too weak for the technology to be viable.
The Tremont project is projected to generate 192,000 kilowatt hours in its first year and to decline slightly thereafter by about 50 kilowatt hours per year for 25 years, Saunders has said. In Maine, the average home consumed nearly 550 kilowatt hours per month in 2016, according to the federal Energy Information Administration.
Immediately after the vote, selectmen signed a contract with Sundog Solar that does not obligate the town to invest any funds to bring the project to fruition, Saunders said. The town has the option of buying the panels and associated infrastructure after six years.
The contract gives the town a discount on its electricity rates, according to the town manager. Tremont currently pays on average between 17 and 18 cents per kilowatt hour, but will pay 12.5 cents per kilowatt hour — for a savings of about 28 percent — after the panels are brought online.
Work on installing the panels and connecting the project to the grid is expected to begin in a few weeks and to be completed by early 2019.
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