AUBURN — With the help of a pair of investors, Good Shepherd Food Bank has installed nearly 900 solar panels at its Hotel Road distribution center, which officials say will allow them to refrigerate perishables while reducing emissions from regional fossil fuel plants. 

A total of 895 panels are operation at the Auburn site while another 840 have been installed at their distribution center in Hampden. 

Good Shepherd, partnered with Maine-based ReVision Energy, got a permit for the $636,685 project in December 2019. 

“The amount of clean energy generated electricity will cover about 70% of what the Auburn and Hampden distribution centers use yearly,” Jessica Donahue, marketing and communications manager for Good Shepherd Food Bank, said. “This is a net even project for us.” 

Good Shepherd Food Bank has installed solar panels at its distribution centers in Auburn and Hampden. Good Shepherd Food Bank photo

Community solar investors Fritz and Susan Onion of Wayne paid for the panels, according to a Good Shepherd news release. 

“Good Shepherd Food Bank is able to purchase the electricity generated by the solar panels on its properties in Auburn and Hampden at a below-market rate, realizing energy cost savings immediately without the upfront capital investment,” according to the release. 

Years down the road, the food bank will have the option to buy the panels at a depreciated cost to generate its own electricity for the long term. The first-year estimated solar production in Auburn is 355,831 kWh and 359,269 kWh in Hampden. 

“Good Shepherd Food Bank had been considering solar energy for several years. Solar energy was of interest for many reasons, the most notable of which is that long-term energy costs savings allow the Food Bank to invest more in its work to fight hunger in Maine,” Good Shepherd President Kristen Miale wrote. “Additionally, studies show that climate change disproportionately impacts low-income populations, so reducing the impact on our environment is also aligned with our mission.” 

As the largest hunger-relief organization in Maine, the Food Bank partners with more than 500 partner agencies to distribute healthy, nutritious meals to individuals and families struggling with hunger. In 2019, Good Shepherd Food Bank distributed more than 25 million meals throughout the state. For more information, please visit feedingmaine.org. 

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