Richard Rotella, Bucksport's economic development director, checks out the meters attached to the solar panels atop the town's Public Works Department building.

BUCKSPORT, Maine — A new $173,000 town solar array came online this week and will save almost $400,000 over the next 40 years, officials said Friday.

The 79.8-kilowatt panels follow the installation of LED lighting in the town office, along the town’s waterfront walkway and an electric-car charger on Main Street, said Richard Rotella, the town’s economic development director.

“This solar array is just part of the town’s assessment of its energy use and finding more cost-effective, environmentally friendly ways to deal with them,” Town Manager Susan Lessard said.

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Installed by ReVision Energy of Liberty after town leaders approved the proposal Aug. 31, the array sits on the Public Works Department building. It started generating power Thursday. Town officials selected solar power rather than wind-to-energy towers because the panels are the least obtrusive, Rotella said.

“It’s flat on a roof. It is more pleasant to look at. You don’t have windmills that could potentially be blocking a viewshed. It’s not in somebody’s backyard,” Rotella said.

The array will generate an estimated 84,740 kilowatt-hours of electricity annually. Under the terms of the town’s deal with ReVision, the latter will finance, own and operate the array for six to 20 years, with an option offered to either side for an early purchase after six years.

Under the agreement, the town will get the electricity and ReVision will get federal solar tax credits, according to ReVision’s project proposal.

“It’s clean. It’s green. It’s using a natural resource, and the savings over time will benefit the taxpayers of the town,” Rotella said. “It makes strong environmental and fiscal sense.”

The town is planning to build another, larger solar array to power its new wastewater treatment plant. According to early estimates, the array will save the town $20,000 to $25,000 of the approximately $75,000 in electricity costs the plant generates annually, Lessard said.

That array is being designed now. If all goes well, it will be built next year.

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