Electrician Zach Newton works on wiring solar panels at the 38-acre BNRG/Dirigo solar farm, Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021, in Oxford. The town of Veazie could see its first solar array, as a developer has proposed a 14.5-acre installation in town. Credit: Robert F. Bukaty / AP

Veazie is poised to approve its first-ever solar array, adding yet another project proposal to a growing list of them in Maine that have become both a source of excitement and controversy.

The town’s planning board will hold a public hearing next Monday, on Sept. 19, on a proposed two-megawatt solar array that will be located in a largely empty lot in the woods off State Street, which is also Route 2.

Veazie Town Manager Mark Leonard said he doesn’t expect the project to face much resistance. Once approved, the solar array would be the first in Veazie as proposals have proliferated both in the Bangor area and statewide.

“It’s the perfect neighbor,” Leonard said. “It’s in the middle of the woods.”

The array is proposed to go on 14.5 acres at 1506 State Street. The property is owned by Sky Villa, LLC. UGE, a New York- and Toronto-based solar developer, is leasing the land from Sky Villa, according to the company’s application with the town.

The site was developed in part as a concrete manufacturing facility while the other portion of the lot was permitted for concrete storage, according to Veazie land records. However, most of that concrete in the storage area has been moved and the solar array would occupy a currently overgrown gravel yard, according to UGE’s application.

Maine has seen hundreds of proposals for solar projects since 2019, when Gov. Janet Mills signed an expansion of the state’s net energy billing program into law, creating incentives for more solar projects. But there’s a good chance many of the projects will never be built, as they wait in a long queue to connect to an electric grid that’s not set up for a proliferation of smaller-scale solar projects.

As the project proposals have proliferated, the reception has grown mixed.

In the Bangor area, for example, Brewer has approved five solar arrays without much controversy while Glenburn voters in March chose to ban solar projects larger than 15,000 square feet.

In May, the state’s Land Use Planning Commission approved a 700-acre solar energy project that will be one of the largest in New England. The Three Corners Solar Project in Benton, Clinton and Unity Township would produce enough power for 30,000 homes, the Associated Press reported in May.

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Sawyer Loftus

Sawyer Loftus is an investigative reporter at the Bangor Daily News. A graduate of the University of Vermont, Sawyer grew up in Vermont where he worked for Vermont Public Radio, The Burlington Free Press...