U.S. Senator Angus King talks about an upcoming solar project at Biddeford’s Pepperell Mill campus on Friday. LIZ GOTTHELF/Journal Tribune

BIDDEFORD — Installation of the state’s largest solar energy project in Maine will begin this fall in Biddeford.

U.S Senator Angus King was on hand Friday afternoon at the Pepperell Mill Campus along with Pepperell Mill Campus CEO Doug Sanford and Revision Energy Co-Founder Phil Coupe to announce a solar project at the former mill campus.

“This unique project in the heart of Biddeford’s economic and cultural revival, will transition the mill from the hydrokinetic renewable energy it used 150 years ago to modern, cost effective solar technology,” said Coupe.

The 16 acre former mill campus has 1 million square feet of interior space and includes 100 residential units and more than 100 businesses. Plans to expand development in the campus include a proposed hotel.

Coupe said the project would install nearly 1,200 solar panels on the roofs of the three North Dam buildings, also known as buildings 15, 17 and 18, and will power the 100 residential units on campus.

Coupe said construction on the project will begin in the fall and is expected to finish before Christmas.

He said the panels have a 25-year warranty and an expected 40-year useful lifespan.

Coupe and Sanford declined to say how much the project would cost, but Coupe said the project will pay for itself in 10 years.

Coupe said the cost of solar energy infrastructure has decreased since discussions began five years ago to bring solar energy to the former mill campus.

He said Maine has a powerful solar resource which is 30 percent more sunshine than Germany, the world leader in solar adoption.

“The combination of cheap solar technology, free sunshine and strong federal tax credits ensures that Pepperell Mill will get a very strong economic and environmental return on solar investing,” said Coupe.

King noted that solar energy systems have been installed all over the state and concurred with Coupe that Maine was a good source of sunshine for solar power.

“What a delightful asset to this community,” said King.

King said one or two determined people can make great changes, and he not only applauded Sanford for the upcoming solar project, but for the renovations he made in the former mill.

Sanford said he was very blessed to be able to have the project move forward and he thanked the many people who helped along the way.

“We are very excited about the future,” said Sanford.

Biddeford Mayor Alan Casavant said Sanford was a creative thinker with a great vision for Biddeford, and played a large role in the recent “Biddosance,” or the rejuvenation of Biddeford.

Staff Writer Liz Gotthelf can be contacted at 282-1535, ext. 325 or [email protected]

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