The City of South Portland in Maine is celebrating the completion of a 4.7 MW solar array that sits atop the city’s capped landfill. The array will generate an estimated 5.8 million kWh of renewable energy each year, offsetting 63% of the City of South Portland’s municipal electric load. In total, more than 80% of the city’s municipal electric load will now be offset by solar.
The three-phase project began in 2017 with a 1016 kW (DC) array, which was, at that time, the largest municipal solar project in Maine. In 2022, the expansion of Landfill East and addition of Landfill West added 474 kW (DC) and 3,251 kW (DC) to the total project. Today, these combined solar projects have the largest power potential of any solar array built on a municipal landfill in the state, according to Maine DEP.
“The City of South Portland is thrilled to announce the completion of this multi-phase project,” says City Manager Scott Morelli. “Thanks to this extraordinary collaborative effort, solar energy now powers the vast majority of municipal operations – a win for both the environment and taxpayers.”
The project was financed through power purchase agreements (PPA) managed by ReVision Energy. The City of South Portland paid nothing to install the solar panels. Instead, Calibrant Energy paid the upfront cost and the city will pay for the power generated from the solar panels each month at a rate lower than utility-provided power. After seven years, the city has the option to purchase the system at a reduced price and own all of the solar power generated for the remainder of the warranty period and 40-year commercial lifespan.
“Calibrant Energy is proud to partner with the City of South Portland and ReVision Energy to support the city’s energy transition,” comments Thomas Biddinger, director of partnerships at Calibrant Energy. “Delivering sustainable solar energy with flexible financing will provide economic and environmental benefits to the area for decades to come. This project is closely aligned with Calibrant Energy’s commitment to providing long-term energy solutions that are built for performance and sustainability.”
Beginning in 2013, ReVision Energy, the City of South Portland and the City of Portland spent four years in a collaborative planning partnership before the first solar array was built in 2017.
“Transitioning society from fossil fuels to renewable energy and clean technology is the biggest infrastructure project in the history of humankind, and one of the greatest wealth creation opportunities of the 21st century. The City of South Portland’s clean energy leadership is already saving taxpayers money while significantly reducing local carbon pollution,” states Phil Coupe, co-founder of ReVision Energy. “Because the cost of solar technology has plummeted by 90 percent over the past two decades, the City of South Portland and its citizens will derive a strong economic and environmental return on this solar investment.”
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Author: Ariana Fine