SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) - Work is underway on what will become the largest solar energy project by a municipality in the state.
The solar farm is under construction right now at the city of South Portland’s capped landfill off of Highland Avenue.
“Among municipal solar projects, it is physically the largest array and will generate the most electricity of the systems installed to date”, said Fortunat Mueller of Revision Energy.
With nearly 3,000 solar panels it will generate enough electricity to supply 12% of the power used to run the city’s schools and municipal buildings. Over it’s 40-year life span it's expected to save the city about $3 million.
“They’re probably going to see that tax savings in 15 or 20 years that I may not realize as a taxpayer right now, but I feel good about moving forward. We’re moving towards a cleaner environment”, said South Portland Mayor Patricia Smith.
What’s interesting about this project is South Portland is working together with it’s neighbor, the City of Portland
“We did have this project on our shelf alone as a single city 4 years ago and that’s when the economics just did not work for us”, Smith said.
Portland has a similar project planned at its capped landfill. By buying the materials in bulk together and bringing the workers to the same geographic area, both communities are saving money. Everyone involved in these projects is hoping the collaboration sends a strong message about the benefits of going solar.
“It’s true a decade ago solar was incredibly expensive and out of reach for most people. Today solar is cheap and competitive”, said Mueller.
If the weather cooperates and everything goes as planned, the switch could be flipped on for the state’s largest municipal solar farm in 6 to 8 weeks.