A new solar array could go online at Falmouth’s capped landfill off Woods Road by this summer. The project could save the town money on its electric bill, according to town staff. File

FALMOUTH — Solar power generated by a new array at the capped landfill off Woods Road could help offset 70% of the town’s annual energy costs. That may lead to nearly $2 million in savings over a 20-year period, according to town staff.

The council is moving forward on a proposal by Tangent Energy Solutions of Pennsylvania to build and maintain the array. In return, the company agreed to provide a guaranteed price of nearly 8 cents per kilowatt-hour for the next 20 years. The town now pays about 11 cents per kilowatt hour to Central Maine Power, according to Finance Director Peter McHugh.

McHugh said last week that under the town would see a savings of about $100,000 a year on its average electric bill of $235,600, or 42%.

Under the proposal, the energy generated by the array would not be tied directly to town buildings. Instead, Tangent would enter into an interconnection agreement with CMP, which would then credit the town for the amount of energy that’s generated.

McHugh said the array, located on four of the most southeastern-facing acres at the landfill, would produce 1,400 megawatt-hours of energy per year; the town and the wastewater department now use 1,979 MHw combined.

The town first began looking into building a solar array at the landfill about four years ago.

Last week Kimberly Darling, Falmouth’s sustainability coordinator, called the project “a great re-use of the landfill” and said the town is in “a much better situation” than it was in 2016, due in part to improved interconnection to the electric grid.

Darling said construction on the solar array could begin this summer, assuming all the approvals are in place by then.

The final details of the contract with Tangent have yet to be worked out and Town Manager Nathan Poore said last week that while it “looks very, very good to get this done, there’s still a lot left to do,” including the final engineering design for the solar array.

Council Chairwoman Amy Kuhn called the project a “significant step” forward, noting last week that Falmouth would be offsetting its carbon footprint.

Attorney Adam Cote of Drummond Woodsum, the firm that’s helping Falmouth negotiate the contract with Tangent, agreed,  saying, “being able to lock in energy costs long term is a pretty powerful tool.” He added it’s also the “right timing” because federal and state laws now include new solar power incentives that are only available for a limited time.

In addition to the cost savings, Councilor Tommy Johnson said he hopes the municipal solar project will spur residents and business owners to also move toward solar power to meet their energy needs. He also asked if a visitor or information center could be built at the site to explain the benefits and how solar power works.

This story was updated to correct the amount Falmouth currently pays for electricity per kilowatt hour.

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