The city council of Waterville, ME, passed a resolution to allow the development of a 25 megawatt utility-scale solar project on the retired Webb Road landfill. The $30 million project will begin construction in early 2020 and is expected to provide electricity for 3,750 New England homes. The project is expected to revitalize the local economy and create more than 175 jobs during the peak of its construction.
“After putting over a year of work into this, we’re potentially looking at land that is virtually unusable and costs us money and turning it into a revenue generating landmass. The size and scope of this project really helps put Waterville on the map when it comes to renewable energy and innovation,” said Waterville Mayor Nick Isgor told Colin Ellis of CentralMaine.com.
The Webb Road project consists of two solar farms. Gizos Energy, Central Maine Growth Council and Waterville’s Department of Public Works plan on developing a 20 megawatt facility on the site of the retired landfill, while a 5 megawatt solar farm will be constructed directly adjacent to the larger project. Solar power generated by the facilities will feed directly into the New England power grid and sold to utilities in surrounding states.
The solar industry as a whole recently took a major hit in Maine when pro-solar legislation, LD 1504, failed to garner enough support in the state’s legislature to override Gov. Paul LePage (R) veto. The bill would have rolled back Maine’s Public Utilities Commission’s (PUC) decision to phase-out net-metering for homes and businesses with rooftop solar installations by limiting existing customer’s reimbursement rates, while reducing rates for customers who install rooftop solar after December 2017. The bill would have also lifted the cap on the amount of customers allowed to participate in community and utility-scale projects from 10 to 200 customers.
“Gizos Energy is pleased to work with the City and Central Maine Growth Council on these new investments, which will put underutilized city lands to use, add to the tax base, provide new revenues, and grow foreign direct investment,” said Gizos Energy in a press release announcing the project. Gizos Energy is the US partner of hep energy GmnH based in Falmouth, ME. The Webb Road solar project will be the company’s first project in the US to date.
The Webb Road solar facility joins a handful of larger-scale solar projects under development in central Maine. The PUC recently approved a long-term agreement that enabled Cianbro Solar and Central Maine Power Company to develop a 10 megawatt solar farm in Pittsfield, ME, which will begin operations in late 2017. Additionally, Colby College in Waterville, ME, is currently constructing a 1.8 megawatt solar installation that will open for operations in fall 2017.Tweet