SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- After three years of planning and months of construction, South Portland city leaders flipped the switch on Tuesday to energize the largest municipal solar array in Maine.

The 2,944 solar panels are expected to produce about 12 percent of the electricity that powers South Portland's schools and municipal buildings. The array was placed on a capped former landfill occupying 34 acres of land. Because of that, city officials say the land would have otherwise remained vacant since no structures can be built on it.

The project sprang from a partnership with ReVision Energy, a private company that obtained a federal tax credit to install the solar array using money otherwise unavailable to the city on its own.

For tax reasons, South Portland will purchase power from the plant until the city can buy it six years from now. Ten years from now, the city expects to see a monetary return by which point it will be able to generate its own power.