Public meetings to be held on community solar power

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NORWAY — The Energy Working Group of the Center for Ecology-Based Economy (CEBE) will present information about its community solar program at three area venues in late March.

The goal of the program is to make solar energy accessible for all local residents who otherwise might have difficulty going solar due to lack of a suitable site or financial constraints. CEBE Community Solar hopes to install its first community solar farm in 2018. Additional projects will be considered as interest and demand arises.

“Community solar farms like this can benefit residents and small businesses in western Maine. Many people want to have the benefits of solar power, but haven’t been able to because they either do not own their property, can’t afford the upfront costs, or have a site that’s unsuitable. The goal of the project is to expand solar access to every sector of the community, including people that have low to middle incomes,” said Pam Edwards, a member of the team that’s been working on this project since its inception nearly a year ago.

Community solar farms make grid-tied solar power more accessible by combining the electrical generation needs for multiple businesses and households into one large solar array. Each “off taker,” or subscriber, gets credited on their monthly electrical bill for their share of the solar electricity generated. This credit is typically enough to offset the subscriber’s share of the cost of the installation, which is paid off over time to make it affordable. Taking advantage of this economy of scale can help make solar accessible to anyone who currently pays a CMP electric bill.

This program to develop a community solar farm was initiated in response to the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Solar in Your Community Challenge. “We were pleased that CEBE’s team was selected to participate in the Solar in Your Community Challenge,” said Scott Vlaun, executive director at CEBE. “It has been a challenge to develop a model that will be accessible to all, especially with Maine’s lack of coherent solar policy and support for renewable energy, but our team was recently awarded $20,000 in technical assistance vouchers from the DOE, which has really helped us to develop the best model possible under the circumstances.”

To learn more, either as a subscriber, partner or host site, attend one of the following forums:

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Harrison: 11 a.m. Saturday, March 24, at the Harrison Village Library, 4 Front St.

Poland: 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 27, at Ricker Memorial Library, 1211 Maine St., Route 26, just south of the Poland Town Office.

Norway: Noon Thursday, March 29, at CEBE in The Commons, 447 Main St.

For more information, contact CEBE at 207-739-2101 or [email protected]

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