Woolwich puts former landfill to work with solar array

Posted:  Thursday, January 11, 2018 - 3:45pm
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Woolwich is putting its former landfill and the sun to work. On Jan. 11, the town celebrated the installation of a solar array Revision Energy built. The 80-panel array off Middle Road (Route 127), was financed through a power purchase agreement between the town and the Portland-based company.

Nick Sampson of ReVision thanked town officials and citizens for partnering in the project that took 16 months to become operational. Sampson told the small gathering the array would produce about 30,000 kilowatt hours of solar-generated electricity annually for the next 40 years.

Select board chair David King Sr. referred to the project as a significant step forward for the town. “We’ll see a savings in our cost of electricity as well as a reduction of our carbon footprint. I hope it’s only the start of something much larger.”

Sampson noted the array cost roughly $80,000 to design and construct. As ReVision promised, the system became fully operational before the end of 2017. ReVision made it by two days; it officially went online with Central Maine Power on Dec. 29.

After ReVision installs a monitoring unit at the town office, residents will be able to see how their array is performing.

Said Sampson, “Once everything's complete, we'll share the system's web-based performance monitoring portal as well as a public link which people can access to view the system's production.” The link can go on the town’s website if the select board chooses to do so, he added.

In accordance with the power purchase agreement, Woolwich will be getting a discount for its solar electricity in the coming year of almost half a cent per kilowatt hour.

ReVision’s Josh Baston served as project manager of the Woolwich project. He told the Wiscasset Newspaper the panels would produce electricity even on cloudy days. The only time the system ceases making electricity is when its panels are completely covered with snow. Even after a heavy storm, snow melts naturally, and fairly quickly from the panels, added Baston. The panels require little maintenance and will be inspected by ReVision annually.

The panels which were made in South Korea are warranted for 25 years, which is about half of their anticipated operational life. According to the PPA, the town can choose to purchase the array in year seven of its operation.

The ribbon-cutting ceremony was held under overcast skies but the system was still producing between 10 and 18 kilowatt hours, Baston said.

Just before town officials cut the ceremonial ribbon, the sun broke through the clouds and briefly bathed the area with sunshine.