WOOLWICH – A 30 acre hay field in Woolwich is about to be filled with 19,000 solar panels as part of an estimated $ 10 million solar project.
The Woolwich Planning Authority approved the project on Monday. Construction of the solar field between Route 1 and Nequasset Road is scheduled to begin in June and will take six to nine months.
According to Allen Tate, project manager at EDF Renewables in Maryland, the solar farm will produce an estimated five megawatts of solar power, which could power approximately 760 households. The electricity generated is distributed by Central Maine Power, but cannot be purchased from local homeowners.
“This project will sell energy to several large Maine customers by crediting the CMP bill,” said Tate. “We can't reveal who these big Maine customers are just yet.”
Regardless of where the solar energy will go after it's generated, Evan Holbrook, who owns the land on which the solar project is being built, said he looks forward to using his family's farmland for a greener cause.
“I think it's a very interesting project and a great step for the environment,” said Holbrook. “It's clean energy and I'm all about it, that's the driving force behind it.”
Holbrook agreed to rent his property to EDF Renewables for an undisclosed amount after the company contacted him.
“The more I heard, the more I liked the idea,” he said. “I've always been interested in wind and solar power, and this is a great way to use the land.”
Although Tate estimated the project will cost between $ 10 million and $ 11 million to build and develop, the city and Woolwich taxpayers are not responsible for paying the bill.
Woolwich residents are unlikely to notice the solar field, Tate said, as the panels are not visible from public roads.
Equipment is no higher than 16 feet or louder than 55 decibels, about as loud as a household refrigerator, from the adjacent property line. From 7:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m., the noise level drops from the property line to 45 decibels, about as loud as in a library or a suburb.
The solar field will be 700 feet from Nequasset Road and 200 feet from the nearest residence.
“I have no problem with the project,” said Debbie Locke, a member of the Woolwich Planning Board. “It's clean energy and we won't see it. If they put up windmills, it might be more difficult to bear. “
No one spoke out against the project on Monday, but Tate said three people who live next to the property contacted him with questions about how loud the solar system would be and whether it would affect private access roads to adjacent properties.
The solar field is expected to be in operation for 25-35 years.
“I think it's a great project and we look forward to entering the Maine renewable energy market,” said Tate.
Solar farms and other renewable energy projects have surfaced across the state in recent years and are further boosted by Governor Janet Mills' 4-year Climate Change Plan unveiled last month.
Mills said she plans to come up with legislation aimed, among other things, at doubling the number of clean energy jobs to 30,000 by 2030 and continuing to drive low-cost renewable energy development, the Portland Press Herald reported.
Mills also said she plans to work with lawmakers on a bond package that would help economic recovery from the pandemic. The unspecified amount of loan money would fund community infrastructure projects that will help mitigate the effects of climate change such as flooding, accelerate the pace of home weathering, and invest in high-speed internet expansion across the state.
Mill's commitment to addressing the effects of climate change is not new. In 2019, she pledged to make Maine climate neutral by 2045 while addressing the United Nations General Assembly.
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