BRUNSWICK — Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority celebrated an eco-friendly milestone Tuesday when it unveiled a long-awaited array of solar-energy panels at Brunswick Landing.
Executive Director Steve Levesque, co-founder Fortunat Mueller of contractor ReVision Energy, and Daniel Hildreth, chairman of the board at Diversified Communications, were present to cut a ceremonial ribbon.
The 1.5-megawatt array was activated Dec. 28, 2017, and contains more than 4,500 photovoltaic panels. The project is ReVision Energy’s largest solar installation to date, the company said.
The array is designed to provide 13.3 percent of Brunswick Landing’s annual electrical load and will eliminate more than 2 million pounds of carbon dioxide emissions a year at the former naval air station.
Levesque said the array brings Brunswick Landing closer to its goal of using 100 percent renewable energy.
He added once an anaerobic digestion system on campus is “working up to speed,” the campus will be run by 75 percent renewable energy.
Josh Baston, a project manager for ReVision Energy, said while winter is not the best time for solar energy production, solar panel modules actually produce more power at colder temperatures.
“So even though the sun is low in the sky, we have a short January day, we get a little bit of bump because everything is cold, which means they make a little bit more power,” he said.
He added recent snow has not hindered the panel’s energy production either, because the panels shed the snow independently.
“We haven’t cleared any snow off the array out here,” Baston said. “It’s just the nature of their (being) a dark-colored surface. Any dark-colored surface heats up in the sun and then eventually the snow will just slide right off.”
Baston added it is likely there could be more solar arrays installed at Brunswick Landing, since there is so much space available.
Diversified Communications, a Portland-based company involved in a power purchase agreement with Brunswick Landing, owns and operates the panel. Diversified will sell Brunswick Landing the electricity for up to 25 years, although the business campus has the option to purchase the system sooner.
Diversified’s willingness to collaborate with Brunswick Landing and ReVision, Mueller said, is one of the reasons he is glad to have them in the project.
“One of the great joys of running a business in Maine is that many of us don’t see business collaboration as a zero-sum affair, where in order for me to be successful you have to have pain, or vice versa,” he said. “That’s really a great pleasure of doing business in Maine with Maine companies.”
Mueller commended his construction crew at ReVision for their job on the project, as well as sub-contractors Hunter Excavating and Enterprise Electric. He added the companies originally planned to have the array completed sooner.
“Like a lot of construction projects, our plan was to build this project at the end of summer (or) early fall, and like a lot of construction projects we inched back in time a little bit,” he said. “So we ended up building this project absolutely into the teeth of winter and into the teeth of the year-end deadline.”
Levesque said the energy demand at Brunswick Landing is continuing to grow steadily, creating more renewable energy opportunities.
“Our demand keeps growing so we have more room for you, as you know,” Levesque said to the investors. “I think this is really an important day for us and an exciting day.”
The solar array at Brunswick Landing is comprised of more than 4,500 photovoltaic panels.