NextEra Energy acquires proposed Farmington solar project


NextEra Energy invited neighbors to the proposed Farmington solar project to an informational meeting held Wednesday at the University of Maine at Farmington. 

FARMINGTON — A proposed $100 million solar farm investment at Sandy River Farms is now a project owned by NextEra Energy Resources LLC with headquarters in Juno Beach, Florida.

Farmington Solar LLC, a project initially proposed by Ranger Solar of Yarmouth, continues to seek town and state permits for an approximately 600-acre solar farm. Potential construction is planned for 2018 and operation in 2019, said Scott Busa, executive director of development.

Representatives from NextEra Energy invited nearby neighbors to the proposed project site along Route 2 to an informal informational meeting held Wednesday at the University of Maine at Farmington.

Representatives will meet with Farmington selectmen on Tuesday and hold more public informational meetings within the next couple of months, said Liz Peyton, project manager.

Ranger Solar worked to develop the proposal including obtaining contracts for the sale of solar power from Farmington Solar LLC over the next 20 years but did not intend to build and operate the project, Busa said.

“Ranger was thorough,” he said of their development work for one of the largest solar projects in New England. The contract is for 50 megawatts but there is land enough to expand and develop a 75-megawatt facility, enough to power over 26,000 homes. 

NextEra Energy, one of the world’s largest generators of renewable energy from the wind and sun, has purchased Ranger Solar’s portfolio of projects, a total of 14, he said.

The Florida-based company is involved in numerous energy projects throughout the country and Canada. A sister subsidiary to Florida Power and Light, NextEra is one of the largest wind power owner-operators and started a solar development group when a rebirth of solar power interest developed around 2008, Busa said.

The company has no wind power projects in Maine.

Large photos and graphics provided more details for neighbors Wednesday including views of the land now and renderings of what it will look like with the solar panels in place. 

The panels create a blackish-blue covering and almost look like water, Busa said. These panels do not move but are fixed. Some panel areas can be seen from the windmills in the parking lot at Mt. Blue High School.

One field, adjacent to a housing development at Stanwood Park Circle, will have a visual impact for those residents. A visual simulation from Stanwood Park Circle, showing current views and proposed views, has been developed to answer residents questions, Peyton said. 

The project proposes to generate millions in new property tax benefits, provide about 185 jobs during construction and six full-time positions during operations. 

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