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Skip the lawnmower. Hire a team of goats to clear the field.

Worried about machinery damaging panels, town officials say the goat rental is well under budget and ahead of schedule.

THOMASTON, Maine — Industrial landscaping can get heavy-duty at times. At a million-dollar solar array in Thomaston, town officials decided to go low-tech with their mowing.

Thomaston Pollution Control Superintendent John Fancy rented 12 goats from an area farm to clear overgrown grass and weeds around the town’s solar panels that went online this spring. He said town leadership gave no objections to the animals’ month-long stay on the two-acre property.

"I figured they were a safe way to cut the weeds around the solar panels," Fancy said, standing next to the array while goats grazed on weeds next to him. "I didn’t want to get heavy equipment in here and damage the panels. The goats don’t bother the solar panels at all."

Fancy, who grew up on a farm with goats, said his office was provided $2,700 for maintenance around the panels, which were erected near the town's wastewater lagoons and public trails. Instead, a dozen goats cost taxpayers $500 to spend a month living, eating, and playing on the fenced-in property, munching on every inch of plant life they wish.

"I thought it was wonderful," smiled town manager Kara George. "We’re trying to be really green in Thomaston, as you can see from the solar array. And, what a great addition to have the goats cut the grass for us or, rather, eat the grass."

George added that, as far as she was concerned, Fancy could rent goats each summer to do the job.

Though little more than a week in, it's a job, Fancy said, that was well ahead of schedule.

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