Solar panels at Freeport library could lighten the electricity bill

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FREEPORT — In a continuing effort to save energy, money, and resources, the Town Council Tuesday night unanimously endorsed an application to the Public Utilities Commission for solar panels at the library. The Renewable Resources grant is for nearly $45,000 and the local match would be $11,000 from municipal reserves.

Town Planner Donna Larson said the proposed grant is a perfect opportunity for the town.

“The library staff has done an outstanding job conserving energy,” she said.

In the past six years, Larson said library staff have reduced their energy consumption by 40,000 kilowatt hours per year by shutting off unnecessary lights and being conscientious.

The new project would include 54 photovoltaic solar panels on the roof of the meeting room. The grant is designed specifically as a community demonstration project, and Larson said the library would be a good place for visibility and education since middle school students visit after school and the library is busy with adult groups, meetings and events each month.

The project will convey and promote renewable energy production to the public through informational signs near the panels and a computer will be available for the public to monitor the production and consumption of electricity at the library.

“This is a good way for students to get used to technology,” Larson said.

Larson said ReVision Energy of Portland did a solar evaluation and found that while the Public Works building would be a good site for solar power because of its large roof, orientation and open space, as a demonstration grant the facility does not get enough foot traffic.

“If the price of solar panels goes down,” she said, “we should look seriously at the Public Works facility.”

Larson said the grant is very competitive, and the deadline for the application is Sept. 30.

In other business, councilors held a workshop on Tax Increment Financing and discussed a proposal to fund the marketing and economic development of the Chamber of Commerce. The proposal would allow $48,000 to come from the Park Street TIF to fund the chamber each year for 20 years.The council is expected to vote on the proposal at its Oct. 6 meeting.

To view the state and municipal slide shows about Tax Increment Financing and it’s impact on Freeport, visit the town Web site or Freeport Economic Development Corp. Web site. The presentations will be posted soon.

The council will meet Oct. 6 at 5:30 p.m. for a workshop with the FEDC and the Freeport Merchants Association to further discuss a Chamber of Commerce, and a council meeting will follow at 7 p.m.

Amy Anderson can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or