Dixmont is considering a temporary ban on the construction of solar panel arrays in town until it can develop regulations.
Residents will vote at a special town meeting on Oct. 12 whether to impose a moratorium on permitting for solar panel arrays for at least six months while the planning board drafts a policy regulating their construction.
The impetus came from Dixmont officials’ realization that there was no requirement that developers set aside money for when it came time to decommission such arrays.
“Right now, there are all these companies that are now sending out these things in the mail that say, ‘Sign up with us and we’ll give you 5 percent off your power bill,’” Selectman David Bright said.
“We started looking into it and saw there was nothing to protect the town when it was time to take them down.”
“What we’re afraid of is that [the panels will] get sold two or three times, and then maybe 20 or 30 years from now, the person that ends up with them doesn’t have the money to take them down and properly take care of them,” Selectman Donald Pendleton said.
“We want to make sure that they’re going to people who are going to be responsible for them.”
There are currently no solar panel projects or proposals for them in Dixmont, but Penobscot County has seen a recent flood in proposals for them. The select board wants to be “ahead of the curve” should any similar projects come to town, Pendleton said.
A moratorium would grant the planning board enough time to come up with a new ordinance that would require developers to reserve a pot of money for when they needed to decommission such panels, Bright said.
If the town votes to approve it, the moratorium will be in effect while the planning board drafts a policy. After the moratorium, the town will vote on whether to implement the planning board’s policy, Pendleton said.