There's nothing I love better than watching my meter roll backwards on a sunny day.

Solar News

Solar Power for Maine

There are many different ways to use solar energy: passive solar, solar thermal (for heat), photovoltaic (for electricity), small-scale, grid-scale. Tell us what you are using the sun for, and read about what others are doing with the sun's power here.

Solar collectors on the Cumberland Community Communications Center by Revisoin Solar

Solar collectors on Cumberland County Communications Center by Revision Energy

 
 
Seven Maine Businesses Receive REAP Grants for Energy Improvements
03/12/2017 - 4:16pm

USDA logo courtesy of USDAUSDA Rural Development Acting State Director Tommy R. Higgins announced on March 2, 2017 that seven Maine businesses have been selected to receive Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) grants totaling $77,500 for the purchase and installation of solar energy systems and energy efficiency improvements. Here is the list of recipients:

FEDCO Seeds, Inc.
Harpswell Freezers, LLC.
Power Gripps, USA, Inc.
Solar Center, LLC
Trippcrest Farm
Waldoboro Environmental Park, Inc.
Wilbur B. Bradbury, dba Bradbury Maple

Read what they are going to do with the money on the USDA’s Maine page.

USDA logo courtesy of USDA.

5-Megawatt Solar Farm Comes Online in Madison
01/08/2017 - 2:21pm

grid-scale solar image courtesy of NREL.On December 29, 2016, Madison Electric Works announced that its municipally-owned solar farm is ready to start powering homes and businesses. The project in Somerset County, being called the largest in Maine, was built and is owned by Ohio-based IGS Solar. ISG will sell the power to MEW at 7.99 cents per kWh for the first six years, at which time the utility may decide to buy the plant.

Madison Electric Works is a department of the Town of Madison, serving electric customers in the downtown area, Madison Business Gateway, and Backyard Farms. It is a Member of North East Public Power Association (NEPPA).

Read it all in the Morning Sentinel.

Grid-scale solar image courtesy of NREL.

MPUC Defers Decision on Net Metering Rule Changes
01/08/2017 - 1:51pm

Photo of Mark Vannoy courtesy of the Maine Public Utilities CommissionOn December 19, 2016, the Maine Public Utilities Commission announced a delay in handing down a decision about a controversial set of proposed rule changes to Maine’s net metering law.

Commission Chairman Mark Vannoy was quoted as saying, ”This is an important rule and more time is needed to consider the proposed rule in light of the comments we received to ensure that the rule treats all ratepayers in a fair manner. It remains clear that changes in technology and costs of small renewable generation, particularly solar photo-voltaic, require a careful review of the current rule and potential modifications."

The 128th Maine Legislature, which has just opened it 2017 session, will also be considering changes to net metering laws.

Read more in Mainebiz and read the announcement on the MPUC website.

Photo of Mark Vannoy courtesy of the Maine Public Utilities Commission.

Almanac Publisher Harnesses the Sun
10/16/2016 - 1:36pm

artist rendering of future solar array at Geiger in Lewiston Maine Image courtesy of Geiger and HarrimanGeiger, the family-owned publisher of the “Old Farmers’ Almanac” celebrated its 200th consecutive issue this year by announcing some changes to its headquarters in Lewiston, Maine.

The company announced in September that it plans to invest $12 million to convert its former manufacturing space in Lewiston into a distribution center and offices. The renovated facility will have up to 90% of its power needs met by a 620-panel, ground-mounted solar array.

The 105,000 square-foot facility will be certified at the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design's (LEED) "gold" level and will qualify as a Maine Advanced Building. Geiger also anticipates hiring 25 to 50 new employees over the next three to five years.

Read more in Mainebiz and the PPAI Publications website.

Image credit: courtesy of Geiger/Harriman.

Twin Solar Arrays to Appear on Closed Landfills
09/17/2016 - 7:14pm

solar panels image courtesy of wikipediaBoth Portland and South Portland are moving forward with plans to install solar power plants atop closed landfills.

On September 7, 2016, the Portland City Council voted unanimously to authorize its city manager to negotiate a power purchase agreement (or PPA) with Revision Energy to build a 660-killiwatt solar array on the Ocean Ave. landfill. The array is expected to save the city more than $3.2 million in energy costs over its lifetime.

The city of South Portland is planning an identical array for its closed landfill. The joint negotiation by the two cities with the installer has served to lower costs for both projects. The initial $150,000 that each city will invest over the first six years of its project is expected to be paid back within 10 years through energy savings.

Read about the recent Portland vote in the Portland Press Herald.

Read about South Portland’s progress in the Portland Press Herald.

REAP Awards Sow Seeds of Energy Investment
05/20/2016 - 10:18pm

hands forking over money with a spading fork image by Harold RobertsOn May 11, 2016, The USDA Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) announced the winners of its latest round of Renewable Energy Development Assistance Grants.

Development Assistance Awards went to:

The Greater Portland Council of Governments: $100,000 to identify renewable energy technologies for agricultural producers and rural small businesses and promote energy programs.

and:

The College of the Atlantic: $64,650 to educate Hancock County business owners and agricultural producers about solar energy options and solutions.

The USDA Rural Development program helps increase American energy independence by increasing the private sector supply of renewable energy and decreasing the demand for energy through energy efficiency improvements. Over time, these investments can also help lower energy costs for small businesses and agricultural producers.

Read about the development awards in Mainebiz.

Lawmakers Uphold LePage's Veto of Solar Bill
05/09/2016 - 1:42pm

Solar panels Image courtesy of humble Farmer.On April 28, 2016, the Maine House voted to uphold Governor LePage’s veto of L.D. 1649, “An Act To Modernize Maine's Solar Power Policy and Encourage Economic Development,” which would have made comprehensive changes to the solar industry in the state. 

LePage’s veto came from his belief that the bill would have raised energy prices on all ratepayers in the state. LePage stated that the bill would increase the costs of doing business in Maine as well as for homes and businesses that cannot afford solar panels “by tens of millions of dollars – picking winners and losers in Maine’s energy mix.” The bill would have increased rates around the fourth year of its plan, adding about 31 cents to the average homeowner’s electric bill, but it also would have drastically increased access to community solar farms, which benefits ratepayers who could not otherwise afford to install solar systems. Read University of Maine economics professor Sharon Klein’s explanation here.

The bill failed by just two votes to achieve a two-thirds majority needed to overturn the veto, losing 96-52. When Democratic leaders brought the bill back for a second vote, it lost again 93-50. Republican lawmakers, Michael Timmons of Cumberland, Brian Hobart of Bowdoinham, MaryAnn Kinney of Knox and John Pichiottti of Fairfield, were accused of “taking a walk” when they voted to override the governor the first time and then failed to vote in the bill’s subsequent appearance.

To read more about this issue, see the Portland Press Herald’s coverage here.

Image courtesy of humble Farmer.

Proposal on Solar Now in Augusta
03/03/2016 - 2:02pm

solar panels image courtesy of humble FarmerOn February 25 2016, a coalition of stakeholders - including solar companies, environmental groups, and utility companies - presented to the Legislature a proposal for new solar energy projects in Maine.

The proposal seeks to increase Maine’s current solar capacity to 250 megawatts in the next five years. As part of this, the proposal seeks to end net metering, a popular system that credits utility customers one-to-one on the amount of energy they generate for the grid. That is, customers of CMP and Emera who sometimes draw power from the grid and sometimes send power to it (from their solar panels or other renewable source) pay only for the “net” amount used on their monthly bill.

Net metering has been popular among solar advocates because it has spurred development and provided incentive for consumers to install solar projects. In the absence of net metering, grid-tied consumers would still be credited for their excess electricity, but it would be tied to a rate set by the Maine Public Utilities Commission, guaranteed for 20 years.

Proponents say the proposal strikes a balance between growing solar, creating jobs, and protecting rate payers and utility companies.

For more information about this issue, continue reading at the Portland Press Herald. Read the proposal here.

Image courtesy of humble Farmer.

Belfast Turns Dump into Solar Resource
01/23/2016 - 6:03pm

solar panelsIn early January 2016, the city of Belfast began producing solar power from a 122-kilowatt array it had mounted atop its former landfill. In a sort of lease-to-own arrangement, the city signed a power purchase agreement with the owner and installer of the array, Revision Energy. After 6 years of buying the power at a discount, the city will have the option to buy the system at a discount. The system is expected to last for 40 years.

A few other Maine municipalities have entered such PPA agreements, and this is the first one located on a closed landfill. Read the full story in the Free Press.

Federal Renewable Energy Tax Credits Extended 5 Years
12/26/2015 - 10:59am

solar panels image courtesy of the humble farmerOn December 15, 2015, the US Congress approved an extension of the Residential Renewable Tax Credit, originally set to expire at the end of 2016, for another five years. The tax credit enables homeowners and small businesses to claim 30% of the cost of solar, small wind, fuel cell and geothermal systems against their taxes. 

Read more about the tax credit from the US Department of Energy. Read Senator Charles Schumer’s announcement of the extension in the Westfield Republican.

Image courtesy of the humble Farmer.