A Portland developer has installed nearly 600 solar panels on an Old Port parking garage with a goal of producing a quarter of the electricity for a nearby hotel.

The rooftop solar array at 425 Fore St., which will produce power for the Hyatt Place Portland Old Port hotel, is the first of its kind in Maine and the largest in Portland, according to Fortunat Mueller, a managing partner at the Portland-based ReVision Energy, which installed the array.

“It’s a very popular thing to do on parking garages and surface parking lots in more mature solar markets,” Mueller said. “It’s wasted space up there over the top of all of those garage decks.”

The man behind the project in Portland is Tim Soley, co-founder of East Brown Cow Management, a real estate investment, development and management firm in Portland. The firm owns the parking garage, which has Five Guys and Gelato Fiasco as retail tenants.

About six years ago, Soley installed 96 solar panels on the south-facing edge of the garage; they generate about 22,000 kilowatts of electricity. Since then, he’s been waiting for the right time to do more.

Over the last few weeks, 578 solar panels were assembled and attached to seven long-span canopies, made by the Georgia-based Quest Renewables, in a surface parking lot behind the garage and hoisted by cranes to the top of the three-story garage. The 114-by-124-foot canopy, which is attached to existing structural steel beams, provides additional covered parking on top of the garage without losing any of the 423 parking spots.


The system, which is connected directly to the Hyatt Place Portland Old Port hotel, was activated on May 23.

“I’ve had this fantasy for a while and this seemed like a great place to cover,” Soley said. “I’m so jazzed about this.”

Mueller said the 193,000 kilowatts of energy the new system will produce is enough to power about 40 single-family homes, reducing the carbon footprint of the hotel by about 7 million pounds over the 25-year life span of the system, which cost about $570,000 to install.

But Soley likes to think of it in terms of automobiles, because it’s installed on a parking garage. He said the output of the system would be enough to power an electric vehicle, like the one he drives, for 1 million miles a year.

Mueller said the project qualifies for a 30 percent federal tax credit.

“The state of Maine is currently the only state in New England that doesn’t offer any support whatsoever for solar projects,” he said.


The project comes as more people in Maine are looking to harness energy from the sun. ReVision recently installed solar arrays at Bayside Bowl, the Schlotterbeck & Foss residential building, the Bayside Anchor public housing development and the Maine Historical Society building in Riverside.

The cities of Portland and South Portland plan to install solar arrays on capped landfills in their respective communities.

Mayor Ethan Strimling said he hopes the project, along with the municipal landfills, will generate more momentum toward his goal of having 25 percent of the city’s homes, businesses and public buildings powered, at least in part, by solar within the next decade.

“Tim is such a conscientious person around the environment,” Strimling said. “I’m really proud of the businesses in the community who are doing their part to reduce the impact of climate change. We’ve all got to play a part.”

Randy Billings can be reached at 791-6346 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: @randybillings

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