MADISON — Madison Electric Works has chosen an Ohio-based energy company to construct a 4.8-megawatt solar energy project in the Madison Business Gateway – an installation about four times the size of any currently in the state.

The publicly owned electric utility plans to buy all of the electricity generated by the project at a fixed rate that is expected to generate savings for ratepayers, Madison Electric Works Superintendent Calvin Ames said.

Madison awarded the contract for the project to ISG Energy of Dublin, Ohio. Construction is expected to start at the end of the month and the project is intended to be completed by Sept. 15, Ames said.

With about 13,380 panels, the Madison project will dwarf Bowdoin College’s 1.2-megawatt solar power complex, which according to the school is the state’s largest. The Madison project is one of several large solar projects in the works that will be larger than the one on the campus of the Brunswick college.

Last week officials at Colby College in Waterville announced the school is building a 1.9-megawatt solar power farm on property it owns in Oakland, and a Yarmouth company also is moving ahead with plans to build a 50-megawatt solar farm at the Sanford municipal airport after gaining approval from the Sanford City Council.

In Madison, ISG will build and own the solar project, which is expected to take up about 16 acres in the Madison Business Gateway. The cost of the project will be about $8 million and will be paid for by ISG.

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As part of a 26-year agreement, Madison Electric will buy all the electricity produced by the project at a fixed rate of 7.99 cents per kilowatt, Ames said. He said the amount of electricity generated will be enough to meet the needs of about 20 percent of the district’s customers, excluding Madison Paper Industries and Backyard Farms.

“Right now it’s going to save a little bit,” Ames said, “but if you look at energy costs 25 years ago compared to today, if it does the same thing, (the fixed rate) will save a lot.”

Ames said he thinks a combination of advancements in solar technology and lowering costs for solar projects have contributed to an increase in solar projects being built around the state.

“At first we thought, ‘Oh, we can’t afford to build solar,’ but then as they were talking to us, it seemed more economical than we thought,” he said last fall. “It looks like it could be very viable.”

Rachel Ohm can be contacted at 612-2368 or at:

rohm@centralmaine.com

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