The City of South Portland has furthered its commitment to renewable energy, installing a 4.7 MW, 12,746 panel solar facility atop a landfill. The project is expected to offset 63% of the city’s municipal electric needs and save taxpayers over its 40-year expected commercial life.
“Thanks to this extraordinary collaborative effort, solar energy now powers the vast majority of municipal operations—a win for both the environment and taxpayers,” said City Manager Scott Morelli.
The project was financed via power purchase agreements managed by ReVision Energy. There was no upfront cost to the City of South Portland to initiate the project. Calibrant Energy, a distributed energy-as-a-service company, paid the upfront cost and the City will pay for the power generated by the project at a rate lower than utility-provided power.
With the project complete, more than 80% of South Portland’s municipal electricity needs are met by solar. The new 4.7 MW array is expected to offset 4,100 metric tons of annual carbon emissions, according to EPA statistics.
“Because the cost of solar technology has plummeted by 90% 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. And perhaps best of all, the recently passed Inflation Reduction Act will further reduce clean energy costs in 2023 and beyond, making solar power, heat pumps, battery storage and electric vehicles the most attractive options for homeowners, businesses, nonprofits and municipalities.” Phil Coupe, co-founder of ReVision Energy.
The three-phase project began in 2017 with a 1 MW array, which was the largest municipal project in Maine at the time it was completed. In 2022, the project was expanded with a 474 kW Landfill East and 3.2 MW Landfill West. According to the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, the combined projects represent the largest landfill solar project in the state.
“Delivering sustainable solar energy with flexible financing will provide economic and environmental benefits to the area for decades to come,” said Thomas Biddinger, director of partnerships at Calibrant Energy.
After seven years, the City has the option to purchase the system at a discount and own all the power generated by the system for the remainder of the 40-year commercial operation period.
The project employed local electricians, electrical apprentices, engineers, and other solar professionals during development and construction. The collaborative partnership for the multi-phase project began planning in 2013.
“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,” said Coupe.
ReVision Energy is a 100% employee-owned solar company with offices in Portland and Montville, Maine; Brentwood and Enfield, New Hampshire; and North Andover, Massachusetts. The certified B-corp has over 350 employee co-owners, 10,000 installations, and 19 years of experience.
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