FARMINGTON — The project manager for a proposed $70 million to $100 million solar energy project at Sandy River Farms provided details of the plan Monday night to members of the Planning Board.

Aaron Svedlow of Ranger Solar of Yarmouth said the project would produce up to 80 megawatts of power for transmission to southern New England. State and local permitting will be sought in 2017 with potential construction in 2018, he said.

Sandy River Farms owner L. Herbert “Bussie” York would continue farming, while 400 to 500 acres of woods behind the farm on Route 2 would be cleared for large solar panels, Svedlow said.

The same technology used in a backyard solar panel system would be used at Sandy River Farms, he said. The likely height of the panels would be about 10 feet. The project would be away from Route 2 and screened by vegetation.

The York property was considered because of the electrical transmission system through the nearby Sturtevant substation, Svedlow said.  

There are tax benefits for the town and some jobs, he said. Under consideration is the potential for the town to gain revenue from leasing about 20 acres of the town’s capped landfill which abuts the property, he said. A different base for the panels is used so they won’t dig into the landfill.

Ranger Solar has similar projects underway in Presque Isle and at the Sanford airport. The two-year old company has other solar projects in Vermont, New Hampshire and Connecticut.

Planning Board member Thomas Eastler raised questions likely to be asked during the permitting process, including potential noise, the loss of the ability to change carbon to oxygen through the forest vegetation and the risk to the property owner and town if the company should walk away from the project.

Eastler cited a number of cases in which companies accepted federal and state funding for solar projects, only to later file for bankruptcy.

The company is privately funded, Svedlow said. No federal or state funds are taken. The 40-year property lease with York includes decommissioning of the panels at the end of their 25- to 30-year life span.

Asked why Maine was chosen, Svedlow said it was the need for energy and good prices for power.

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