SOUTH PORTLAND — City officials have rejected two proposals received in October from firms willing to develop and operate solar energy farms on municipal properties, including the former landfill off Highland Avenue.

The city sought competing proposals for photovoltaic systems as part of an overall effort to reduce municipal electricity costs and carbon production under its climate action plan.

One of the proposals came from Ameresco Inc. of Framingham, Massachusetts, and the other came from ReVision Energy of Maine and New Hampshire, and Energy Systems Group of Newburgh, Indiana.

Neither bid offered an appealing power purchase agreement nor addressed the city’s desire to install solar arrays on nine municipal buildings, such as City Hall, the public library and the community center, City Manager Jim Gailey said.

“The proposals were not in the best interests of the city,” Gailey said Thursday. “We’re aware of other proposals received by other communities that are much more favorable.”

City staff members are re-evaluating South Portland’s solar energy goals and options before moving ahead with an alternative plan, Gailey said. He declined to elaborate on which communities have received better proposals.


However, right next door in Portland, city officials are reviewing a proposal submitted by ReVision in November that calls for installing solar panels on Portland’s former landfill off Ocean Avenue and on four public buildings.

The Portland proposal calls for 2,916 solar modules to be installed at the 44-acre capped landfill. Solar panels also would be installed at Portland Arts and Technology High School, King Middle School, Portland International Jetport and the Portland Public Library’s storage facility on Riverside Street.

Portland also received an unsolicited proposal this month from Renewable Energy Development Associates of Portland, pitching an idea to install solar panels on highly visible public lands – such as along Baxter Boulevard and West Commercial Street – as working works of art and education projects.

Portland officials have said they hope to move the ReVision project forward in time to take advantage of federal tax credits that expire in 2016.

In order to take advantage of the tax credits, which aren’t available to the city because it doesn’t pay taxes, ReVision would install and operate the solar array for six years. Portland would be required to purchase electricity from the company at a premium – roughly 3.5 cents per kilowatt-hour above the current rate.

If Portland purchased the solar array, it could see a savings of about 2 cents per kilowatt-hour over the 40-year life of the panels. If the city does in fact generate 6 percent of the roughly 35.6 million kilowatt-hours of electricity it uses each year, it could see an average annual savings of $42,700.


South Portland’s proposals were analyzed and compared by Julie Rosenbach, the city’s sustainability coordinator, and Competitive Energy Services of Portland, an independent consulting firm that helps companies and nonprofit organizations manage energy costs.

ReVision and ESG offered a two-phase proposal.

The first phase called for installing a 245-kilowatt array at the 146-acre Wainwright Field complex on Gary L. Maietta Parkway that would generate more than 321,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity in the first year at a cost of 11 cents per kilowatt-hour with a 2 percent annual escalation and potential acquisition of the system after six years for roughly $288,000.

“This rate presents immediate and long-term savings to the city,” Rosenbach wrote in a memo to Gailey. “(Per kilowatt-hour) it is 1 cent less than the existing CMP small general service rate (currently paid by the city).”

However, Rosenbach explained, the cost structure depended on entering into a performance-based contract with ESG, which she said wasn’t in the city’s best interests.

The second phase called for installing a 924-kilowatt array at the 34-acre capped landfill that would generate nearly 1.2 million kilowatt-hours of electricity in the first year, with the potential to add two more arrays. ReVision didn’t specify a per-kilowatt-hour rate for the second phase.

Ameresco’s proposal offered two options. The first called for installing a 658-kilowatt array at the capped 28-acre landfill that would generate nearly 846,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity in the first year at a cost of 15 cents per kilowatt-hour with a 2 percent annual escalation.

The second option called for four separate but interconnected 660-kilowatt arrays at the landfill that would generate 3.38 million kilowatt-hours of electricity in the first year, at a cost of 12 cents per kilowatt-hour with a 2 percent annual escalation.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.