The unbroken orange line shows where a solar farm would be built at a 14.8-acre former utility pole yard. Contributed / Yarmouth Committee for Energy Efficiency and Sustainability

If a proposal for the purchase and lease of a Sligo Road property is approved July 15, Yarmouth residents and businesses could have the option of using solar power to cut their electric bills by up to 20%.

The town’s Committee for Energy Efficiency and Sustainability began discussions in September on what to do with a roughly 15-acre former hazardous waste site owned by Central Maine Power used to chemically-treat utility poles, committee member David Ertz said. Since the site was cleaned up in 2001, Ertz said, the town has had an option to purchase the property for $1, a deal that was negotiated when the town bought an adjacent 34-acre property that same year.

“The pole yard is a brownfield site and there are few uses for the site that wouldn’t require a lot of expensive remediation work and potential liability issues,” Yarmouth Town Council Chairwoman April Humphrey said. “A solar farm is one of the best possible uses of the site, which we would otherwise probably not have found a use for.”

A brownfield site, as identified by the federal Environmental Protection Agency, is “a property, the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant.”

“It would look aesthetically better to have a project here rather than not,” Ertz said, noting the Sligo Road parcel’s current appearance with overgrown vegetation surrounded by a chain-link fence.

Economic Development Director Scott LaFlamme said the town would lease the property to EDP Renewables for $35,895 for the first year, with a 2% increase over each year during the 20-year period. The town would receive roughly $872,000 over the lifetime of the agreement, he said.

In January, Ertz said, an environmental consultant was brought in to conduct a wetlands study, and in May, the energy and sustainability committee sent out a request for proposals to develop the property into a solar farm.

At a town council meeting July 1, the committee recommended hiring EDP Renewables of New York, which crafted a proposal that fit the committee’s vision.

Ertz said EDP Renewables has proposed a project that would power approximately 200 single-family homes continuously for a 20-year lease period. The developer would work with individual subscribers, Ertz said, and Yarmouth residents and businesses would be prioritized for the first 90 days during a subscription period after the project is done. After the 90-day period the developer could solicit subscriptions from outside of town.

Ertz said this is the first project of its kind in Yarmouth, but the town is no stranger to solar energy. Yarmouth will secure a portion of energy from solar farms under construction in Acton and Naples that are expected to be operational by this fall, he said.

“Last year, the Town subscribed to a power purchase agreement with Revision Energy that will offset roughly 92% of the Town and School Department’s electrical load,” LaFlamme said of the deal.

If the Town Council approves the measure scheduled for a public hearing and a vote July 15, Town Manager Nat Tupper can finalize and execute the terms of the purchasing agreement with Central Maine Power and begin leasing negotiations with EDP Renewables.

Humphrey, the council chairwoman, suggested the council might be able to approve the negotiations without approving the project in its entirety if councilors felt they needed more time to consider the decision. A council vote on Aug. 19 could be taken instead if that proved to be the case, she said.

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