OXFORD — Land near the railroad tracks by Fore Street and extending into Paris will be the site of a 30-acre solar farm scheduled to go online in 2021.

The $8 million project is being developed by ISM Solar Development, a company based in East Providence, Rhode Island, that recently added an office in Poland.

The company is working on 10 solar projects throughout the state.

The Planning Boards from Oxford and Paris met jointly last week to review the plans. The Oxford Planning Board met separately Thursday and approved the plan, Code Enforcement Officer Joelle Corey-Whitman said.

“The land has been on the market for several years because of some complexities,” Greg Lucini, the CEO of ISM Solar, said.

He pointed to the railroad tracks that run through the property as well as a Central Maine Power transmission line. The company designed the solar farm around those obstacles and compromised spaces, utilizing 20 of the 30 acres.

Ten of the 30 acres are in Oxford.

“We like to look at places that don’t really have great other uses,” Lucini said. “We specialize on building on landfills and brownfields. We’ve also built on quite a lot of former gravel pits. When you do that, you are able to develop solar and create a source of clean renewable energy without having to disrupt farms or cut down a lot of trees. We try to minimize that wherever we can.”

That land was harvested for timber about 10 to 15 years ago, Corey-Whitman said.

The solar farm will utilize 10,500 panels and produce 4.2 megawatts of power, Lucini said.

Working with two separate towns, with their own planning boards and code enforcement officers, came with no complications.

“Surprisingly no,” Lucini said. “The towns cooperated. I was really happy with how the towns worked together. It’s a credit to both of them.

The Oxford-Paris project will utilize what Lucini describes as the latest technology is solar power.  The solar panels are bifacial, meaning they can absorb sunlight from both sides of the panel. Instead of absorbing light and generating power from the side facing the sun, the backside can absorb the light reflecting off the ground.

The increased surface area makes the panel more efficient and increases energy production.

The solar farm will also have a tracking device to follow the sun from east to west. The tracking feature will help in winter during snowstorms, moving the panels vertical to keep snow off them.

“When the snowstorm is over, they go back to facing the sun,” Lucini said. “They can absorb even more light from the backside with a fresh blanket of snow that’s on the ground. We’re expecting a good amount of production, even in the winter.”

Next for the project is to monetize the electricity in the community solar program with CMP. Anyone with a CMP account can sign up  with the community solar program. That will enable customers to receive a reduction on their electrical rates, Lucini said.

Construction on the solar farm is expected to begin in 2021 and take six months.

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