CHINA — A solar farm on land next to Route 32 will be four times bigger than originally planned – up to 650 panels that would generate up to 200 kilowatts of energy for as many as nine owners.

ReVision Energy, a New England solar energy company, plans to build a community solar farm on a large uncultivated field owned by Christopher Hahn, who owns Three Level Farm.

The company originally had planned up to 150 panels that would generate 50 kilowatts of energy, but it asked the Planning Board on Tuesday to authorize expansion of the project.

At the board meeting, Hans Albee, company engineer for ReVision Energy, asked to increase the scale of the project fourfold, meaning up to 650 panels that could generate 200 kilowatts of energy.

The property is 330 feet by 130 feet and the modules will cover up to 12,000 square feet of the land. The community solar farm plans to accept up to nine members, which can be anyone within Central Maine Power territory.

“That’s the biggest we feel we could conceivably build there,” Albee said Wednesday. The company is accepting applications for membership online.

The board voted 4-0 to approve the larger-scale community solar farm. The town can appeal the board’s decision within the next 30 days.

The company expects to complete the project by the fall, Albee said.

The project was first approved last August, but the company couldn’t build during the colder months so it started looking for members instead, Albee said. It found a few people who were interested, but they wanted large shares.

ReVision Energy, which has offices in Liberty and Portland and two in New Hampshire, uses community solar farms to allow greater access to solar energy, Albee said Wednesday. Homeowners and business owners who don’t have a location or roof suitable for a solar panel to be installed can get the environmental and financial benefits of solar through the community farms.

ReVision has two other such farms in the state, according to its website, including one that went online in Wayne in May and another in Edgecomb. The Wayne project, Sky Ranch, can produce 49.6 kilowatts and the one in Edgecomb is capable of 46.4 kilowatts. Even the larger China plan is dwarfed by some of the state’s biggest solar projects – for instance, Colby College in Waterville plans a 5,000-panel, 2.5 million-kilowatt project.

Albee said the company decided to build a solar farm in China because Hahn, the owner of Three Level Farm, expressed interest and the property is relatively close to ReVision Energy’s branch in Liberty. Hahn was out of the country this week and not available for comment.

Community solar farms also allow renters to use solar energy, and they can take their share of that farm with them wherever they move within CMP territory, Albee said.

All members will get credits toward their net metering in proportion to the shares they own, Albee said. If someone owned 10 percent of the solar farm, then he or should would get 10 percent back in credits.

Net metering is a state rule under which utility companies, such as CMP, credit customers that produce solar power for the energy they feed back into the grid.

Madeline St. Amour can be contacted at 861-9239 or at:

[email protected]