January 13, 2020
City of Augusta plans solar project to offset 100% of electricity costs
The city of Augusta, Maine, has entered into a proposed partnership with a local utility that would allow for the construction of a solar farm on unused district land and make it the first municipality in Maine to cover all electricity costs through renewable sources.
Greater Augusta Utility District proposed a contract with a solar development firm for a 3.9 MW solar facility to be built next to an unused water treatment plant in the city of Winthrop, the Kennebec Journal reported. The power generated from the solar plant would then be delivered to the Central Maine Power Co. grid, allowing the utility and the city to offset their electrical bills through credits received for the power fed into the grid.
This project could mean offsetting 100% of the electricity used in city buildings and could expand to local school buildings as the project grows. Ralph St. Pierre, finance director and assistant city manager in Augusta, told the Kennebec Journal that the project could provide the city with an additional 1.4 MW of solar energy and save the city approximately $70,000 a year in reduced electrical costs.
Nine city and school buildings are already having their electricity offset through credits from a project the city uses to produce electricity from methane gas captured from rotting material at the Hatch Hill landfill, which saves the city $60,000 a year. This new solar project would account for the remaining electricity the city uses not offset by the Hatch Hill System.
According to the publication, the city and the GAUD would pay approximately 7 cents per kilowatt for electricity produced and would receive a credit from Central Maine Power Co. of about 13 cents per kilowatt.
As of now, it has not been decided who will cover the cost of connecting the project to the CMP grid, should it move forward.
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