Brunswick is taking a leap toward renewable energy after approving a 20-year offsite solar contract with ReVision Energy.

The agreement targets a 66% commitment of the combined municipal and school electric expenses — saving the town an estimated $1.8 million over the 20-year period. Brunswick’s projected annual electric expense for both municipal and school buildings is $558,291, not including streetlights.

Combining the school and town, the contracts translate to a commitment of about 3 million kilowatt hours per year generated through solar. For comparison, the average American home in 2019 used just over 10,600 kilowatt hours per year, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Offsite solar means that Brunswick will not build its own solar array, but instead enter into a power-purchase agreement that will ultimately certify the town’s use of renewable energy. ReVision Energy is a renewable energy contracting company based in South Portland that is paid by investors to build and manage renewable energy projects.

On Monday, the town council unanimously voted to authorize the contract. The school board unanimously approved the contract last week.

The savings are projected to start in 2023 after the completion of the offsite solar project, which will begin construction in 2022.

An exact location for the offsite array that Brunswick will be slotted into has yet to be determined, according to ReVision Energy Solar Consultant John Dunster, however the investor-owner company will be Summit Ridge Energy.

“Saving money and using renewable energy are both positive outcomes,” Brunswick School Board Chair William Thompson said. “It’s good for the bottom line and sends the right message to our students about conservation and preserving natural resources.”

As a result of Maine’s Net Energy Billing Program, the town will essentially receive a fixed discount of 21.5% through the duration of the contract, resulting in an estimated first-year savings of $79,206.

ReVision Energy investors recoup their investment and profit through the tax incentives and sale of the kilowatt hours associated with the Net Energy Billing credits. In the case of the Brunswick agreement, a roughly 9-cent payment per kilowatt hour that the town purchases, which represents a savings of about 2 cents over the current Net Energy Billing rate.

“We’re very, very thrilled to be working with the town and school department of Brunswick,” Dunster said. “As the number one installer in all of New England, we value and see these projects like Brunswick as being a next step in our ultimate goal, and our ultimate goal is really to transition the northern New England economy off of fossil fuel.”

According to Dunster, the contract between ReVision and Brunswick will offset the equivalent of about 3.1 million pounds of carbon dioxide per year. This translates to about 161,000 gallons of gasoline not being burned, and 303 passenger cars being removed from the road each year.

Other towns that partner with ReVision Energy to power municipal buildings include Topsham, Rangeley, Rockland, Vassalboro and others. Dunster said that the company has installed over 10,000 solar projects.

Council documents show that the agreement leaves about 34% of Brunswick electric expenses to be used for other solar opportunities down the line.

Brunswick Economic and Community Development Director Sally Costello said in Monday’s council meeting that municipal buildings such as the parks and recreation center and the new fire station — which is currently under construction — may serve as other on-site solar options.

While the fire station is being built to allow for roof-mounted solar, Costello said, the parks and recreation center is still being analyzed, and is in a unique situation being connected to the MRRA grid.

Costello said Brunswick High School and the Kate Furbish Elementary School are already looking to put in rooftop solar arrays in the near future.

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