Bowdoinham officials will sign on to a deal with the Nexamp Community Solar Farm to provide town-owned buildings with clean energy at a reduced cost, according to a news release.
Nexamp’s Community Solar Farm, located in Madison, features 10,000 solar panels generating enough power to supply more than 750 average homes.
“Bowdoinham is subscribing to an allocation from the farm that covers the power used by five of its municipal buildings,” according to the release.
Bowdoinham Director of Planning and Development Jennifer Curtis said the five buildings would include the town office, town hall, public works, fire department and the waterfront park. She said the accounts for these buildings were the only ones large enough to be eligible for the project.
With no up-front costs, the switch to solar power is expected to save the town to 15% on its annual electricity costs, according to Nexamp.
Curtis said last year’s electric bill for the municipal buildings was $19,000. If the town saves 15% under solar energy, it could bring the annual cost down to $16,150, saving $2,850.
“The Committee is happy to see that Bowdoinham will be getting its electricity from a solar source,” said Wendy Rose, chair of the Community Development Advisory Committee. “This is a critical moment to be making this move and to be saving the town some money. Our hope is that in the future the select board will explore installing a solar array in town for even greater benefit. It’s good to know that signing up with Nexamp now will not prevent us from exploring other alternatives in the future.”
Curtis said using the solar farm is less risky for Bowdoinham because it won’t require taking out a large bond to build its own solar farm or install solar panels on town buildings. If the town wishes to discontinue its use of the solar farm, it can, after providing three months’ notice to Nexamp, she added.
“It’s important to note that community solar is different than rooftop solar or an alternative energy supplier,” Nexamp Communication Manager Keith Hevenor said. “A community solar farm feeds renewable energy directly to the utility grid and subscribers benefit from credits that reduce their utility bill. They pay for the value of those credits at a fixed discount – 15% in Maine – thereby saving an average of 15% annually. Subscribers are not “converting to solar energy” but rather are subscribing to the farm to reduce their costs and support the development of more renewable energy for the grid.”
Nexamp has several dozen community solar farms spread across Maine and the U.S. that are available for homeowners, renters, municipalities, small businesses and nonprofits.
“We have about two dozen projects underway in Maine today, in towns such as Madison, Gorham, Auburn, Lisbon, Rumford, Milo, Harrington and more,” said Hevenor. “Because the energy is fed directly to the grid, we can serve anyone who gets power …….