Wiscasset hears solar proposal

Tue, 07/14/2020 - 11:45am

    Wiscasset Planning Board received a pre-application presentation from Power Engineers and Syncarpha Solar on behalf of Wiscasset Solar 1 LLC during Monday’s Zoom meeting. The proposed project would create a community solar farm off Lowelltown Road at Jones Road. The project would be 5 megawatts and would allow Wiscasset residents and other Maine residents to benefit from an energy savings. According to their pre-application materials, Syncarpha describes community solar as “a way for multiple participants to share in the benefits of a local solar array. It is similar to a community garden or a farm share, but for solar rather than produce. The array is hosted off-site, and is open to residents and small businesses in the region with the same utility.”

    Syncarpha Project Manager Michael Atkinson explained that residents who join could save up to 10% on their electricity bills and there is no cost to join. He said Syncarpha has a 20-plus year contract with Central Maine Power and should be able to accommodate 100-200 homes on the discount plan. The location includes approximately 20 acres of land and the solar array will be fenced in. Planning board member Jason Putnam asked if people would be able to see the panels from the road. Atkinson said the array exceeded the necessary buffer distance as required by the town ordinance but Syncarpha would have a more complete answer for its formal application and public hearing.

    Two items of business were tabled for lack of a quorum. The first, presented by Karl Olson, temporarily stepping out as board chair to present, was a request for an exception for a minor subdivision off Lowelltown Road. Owner Allison Chapman is looking to subdivide her land after doing so three years and eight months ago. Because she does not have a homeowner’s exemption, she must wait a full five years before subdividing again, unless she gets board approval.

    In the other tabled item, Mark Pierson, owner of the Clark’s Point development, presented his request for a minor amendment to an approved plan for a driveway in the development’s lot 8. There is a new house under contract and, due to the steepness of the original driveway, Pierson would like to offer an easement to alter the current driveway. Members of the board were generally supportive but this request also had to be tabled until the next meeting as Olson was a co-presenter.

    The board meets next at 7 p.m. July 27.