A clean-energy firm is proposing three utility-scale solar projects in Maine totaling 201 megawatt capacity, cost $100 million or so. One would be associated with a wood-burning power plant which, as has happened to electricity-only wood-burning in New Hampshire, is struggling with high costs. “It would be the first time a solar farm has been tied into a biomass plant, according to North Light Energy,” reports the Press-Herald reporter Tux Turkel in this story.
The Maine projects are among several vying for selection through a procurement process being conducted by the PUC. The PUC selection processes stem from laws passed in 2019 aimed at increasing the state’s share of energy from renewable sources from 40 percent today to a very aggressive 80 percent by 2030, with a goal of 100 renewable energy by 2050.
Maine is the Northeast’s leader in wind power and has a lot of hydroelectricity as well. The story adds this interesting tidbit:
Also this month, the Boston-based solar energy developer Nexamp began a marketing campaign offering residents and small businesses a 15 percent credit on their electric bills if they subscribe to proposed solar projects in Gorham, Auburn and Rumford, the first example in Maine of a new way to invest in community solar projects.
New Hampshire is a New England for solar installations – in fact, according to this datasheet, we are a laggard nationally, ahead of only six states that depend either on coal (Wyoming, Kentucky) or utility-scale wind (Kansas, Nebraska). The tally said that in May, New Hampshire produced 17,000 megawatt-hours of solar, compared to 42,000 in Vermont, 48,000 in Rhode Island, 110,000 in Connecticut and 409,000 in Massachusetts. The database doesn’t include Maine, for some reason.
In researching Nexamp on the Web, it is not clear that they are running at a large enough profit to provide savings for Maine customers. I see no disinterested evaluations of their purchases and plans. One property which would have been a 6.5 MW facility in Pittsfield, Massachusetts has been abandoned. See also https://www.wgbh.org/news/post/mass-solar-industry-peril-wake-pending-beacon-hill-compromise .
There is a Nexamp project in the works in Sweden, ME involving two parcels of land. One is 137 acre site and the other is 147 acres. Both are mostly wooded. Sweden is a very small town in the Lakes Region, with about 420 residents….no major industry and no big housing developments. We don’t even have cable TV. The chosen sites are in close proximity to high power lines. I’m not anti-solar but it makes no sense to clear cut hundreds of acres to build a solar farm in the middle of nowhere. I read one article that said MA pays companies less for power generated by panels sitting on land that used to be forested. I don’t know if Maine went the same route.