The town of Falmouth is exploring the idea of building a 4-acre solar array at a capped landfill off Woods Road, similar to this one in Portland. Courtesy / City of Portland

FALMOUTH — It’s been four years since the town looked into building a solar array on the landfill off Woods Road, but changes in state law and renewed interest by the council have now revived the project.

The council was set to discuss the idea at an Oct. 16 meeting, which was held after The Forecaster’s print deadline.

Council Chairwoman Amy Kuhn said Monday that board members have identified a municipal solar array as a top priority for 2020. “It will be a big undertaking for Falmouth, but we really want to see what’s out there,” she said.

Kuhn said, “there are lots of ways this can go,” including a contract with a developer to build and maintain the solar array, with the town purchasing all or some of the power produced.

A new solar array could go online next to the Falmouth Transfer station by next summer. Courtesy / Google Satellite

Falmouth first began the installation of a 4-acre solar array at the landfill in late 2015.

Data on the town’s annual power usage and the potential solar offset was not available prior to the meeting, but Finance Director Peter McHugh said Tuesday the town budgeted $250,000 for electricity at municipal buildings and the wastewater treatment plant for the current fiscal year.

McHugh said the amount the town could save would not be available until requests for proposals to build an array are opened, but anticipated it would ” definitely put a pretty decent dent” in the town’s annual power bill.

Kuhn said despite the council’s commitment to “conservation and sustainability,” the “return on investment for the solar project will be important” in determining whether the town moves forward.

Assuming the council decides to send out a request for proposals this week, a pre-bid meeting would be held Nov. 4, with proposals due Nov. 21. A draft RFP states that the developer would be responsible for all permits and permissions, including an Interconnection Application from Central Maine Power.

A series of new laws signed by Gov. Janet Mills this past summer has led to a renewed push by several municipalities,  businesses and others to pursue either new or long-dormant solar projects.

Four years ago the town commissioned a study that “determined the closed Falmouth landfill, with its southerly-orientated plateau … is optimal for a (photovoltaic) array.” According to the study, the most suitable area at the landfill is approximately 4 acres.

A similarly sized project in Portland is now providing about 3% of the city’s power needs and the 2,816 photovoltaic panels installed by ReVision Energy are expected to generate 1.2 million kilowatt-hours of electricity a year, according to the Press Herald.

In a memo provided to councilors prior to Wednesday’s meeting, Falmouth town staff said due to recent changes in state law, a large-scale solar system “is more financially feasible than in previous years.” The memo also said a presentation by Darling would provide an overview of the work done to date, potential financing options, and the expected timeline, which would mean getting the array operational by summer 2020.

Comments are not available on this story.