Brunswick solar project gets green light

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BRUNSWICK — A proposal for a 160-panel, 40 kilowatt solar array atop the Fort Andross Mill complex received a certificate of appropriateness from the Village Review Board Tuesday, April 26.

Dan Jacques, a partner at Waterfront Maine, which owns the building at 14 Maine St., said at the meeting that the project is designed to meet the energy needs of a specific tenant, the Nature Conservancy of Maine.

He said Waterfront agreed to the project as part of the Nature Conservancy’s lease. Noting that sustainability is a key part of the organization’s mission, “we think it’s a reasonable investment for what they’re wanting to do.”

According to Jacques, ReVision Energy of Portland is scheduled to install the panels by June 30 at a cost of $127,000.

“Waterfront agreed to finance the project entirely on their own, and then sell us the electricity … through the lease agreement,” Nature Conservancy Associate State Director Tom Rumpf said Wednesday. “It gives us the ability to have a clean energy source, and we’re trying to demonstrate a new potential model for leasees to discuss with their landlord.”

Waterfront is also adding an electric vehicle plug-in station in the Fort Andross parking lot.

The main question for the Village Review Board, which unanimously approved the project, was whether the panels would be visible from the street.

In an April 13 email to Planning Director Anna Breinich, ReVision’s Anna Minckler said the panels – which would rise 14 inches from the rooftop at a 10-degree angle and be set back 10 feet – would not be seen on the building, which is more than 65 feet tall.

Board members agreed with ReVision’s assertion.

“You wouldn’t see (the panels) until you are very far away,” board member Karen Topp said. And, at such a low angle, the panels would be virtually negligible, she added.

“I just think this is a great proposal,” board member Emily Swan said.

The Fort Andross array will join other major solar projects in Brunswick, including the 1.2 megawatt array at Bowdoin College, and a proposed solar farm at Crystal Spring Farm.

Walter Wuthmann can be reached at 781-3771 ext. 100 or Follow Walter on Twitter: @wwuthmann.

A rendering of a proposed 160-panel solar array atop Fort Andross in Brunswick.

Brunswick/Harpswell reporter for The Forecaster. Bowdoin College grad, San Francisco Bay Area native. Follow for municipal, school, community, and environmental news from the Midcoast.