South Portland officials say the installation of a 2,944-panel solar array on the city’s former landfill off Highland Avenue is ahead of schedule and power generation may start in October. Staff photo by Kelley Bouchard

SOUTH PORTLAND — Installation of a solar array on the city’s capped landfill is suffering none of the setbacks experienced by a similar project planned in Portland.

Portland-based ReVision Energy is installing 2,944 photovoltaic panels on the 34-acre former landfill, which is behind the city’s solid-waste transfer station and the public services facility that’s being built at 929 Highland Ave.

Sustainability Coordinator Julie Rosenbach said there are “no issues” with the South Portland project. The installation is ahead of schedule and the array likely will be operating in early October, she said.

Rosenbach developed the project with ReVision in tandem with Portland officials, who negotiated a similar agreement for a solar array on that city’s capped landfill off Ocean Avenue. As a private, for-profit company, ReVision can build the arrays using federal tax credits that aren’t available to municipalities, which are nonprofits.

Each community will purchase the electricity from ReVision at rates higher-than-market prices for the first six years, before being able to buy the equipment outright for nearly $1.6 million.

In the long run, the cities could save money – and possibly even make money – because they would generate their own power rather than purchase it from the grid.

But before Portland can install its 2,800-plus solar panels – it hopes by the end of the year – city officials there must address longstanding problems at its 35-acre closed landfill.

Portland officials said last month they must repair the landfill cover, which has settled over the years and been compromised by recreational uses, lack of maintenance and erosion. That will cost more than $150,000.

They also must install several vents – similar to those at South Portland’s landfill and for an additional cost – to release methane gas that’s collecting in the landfill.

ReVision started installing South Portland’s solar array on July 18, with the expectation of completing the project by September. Four long rows of panels are now visible on the landfill mound from the city’s solid-waste transfer station.

The solar array is expected to generate 1.2 million kilowatt-hours of energy per year, about 12 percent of the electricity used by South Portland’s school and municipal buildings.

Kelley Bouchard can be contacted at:

[email protected]


Correction: This story was revised at 9:43 a.m., Sept. 5, 2017, to reflect that Portland’s closed landfill occupies a 35-acre site.