The South Portland City Council unanimously approved a zoning change Monday night allowing the Howard Johnson Hotel to install a solar array that would greatly reduce its electricity costs.

Owner Suresh Gali wants to install the $900,000 project on a 1.5-acre lot behind the hotel at 675 Main St. The wooded lot is wedged between the Maine Turnpike connector road and Landry Village, a rental complex owned by the South Portland Housing Authority.

The council voted 7-0 Monday to rezone the parcel from residential uses to limited business uses, as is the hotel’s parcel. The Planning Board voted 4-0 in April to support the change.

Now, the project depends on getting bank financing, Gali said Tuesday. No installation date is set.

The 900 Canadian solar panels, installed in five rows, would generate 354,033 kilowatts hours of electricity annually and reduce the hotel’s electricity costs by $53,000 per year, Gali told the council in June.

The hotel spent $89,974 on 747,800 kilowatt hours of electricity last year, Gali said. The hotel had already reduced its annual electricity use by 26,200 kilowatt hours per month by installing LED fixtures last fall.

Energy efficiency and alternative power generation figure prominently in Gali’s business plan. He also operates the Day’s Inn near the Maine Mall, where 400 solar panels were installed on the roof in March 2014.

Kelley Bouchard can be reached at 791-6328 or at:

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