The Town of Scarborough recently completed the purchase of the solar arrays installed on two Town buildings: the Engine 5 fire station, located on Saco Street, and the Community Services maintenance building on the municipal campus. The arrays were installed in 2014 through a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with ReVision Energy and ReVision has maintained ownership up until this point. Through the PPA, the arrays were installed with no upfront costs from the Town, and the Town paid ReVision for the energy produced. This amount was less than the Town would have paid Central Maine Power for the electricity.

This year was the first opportunity for buyout of the arrays. The PPA gave the Town the option to buy the arrays outright seven years after installation. During the first buyout opportunity in 2021, ReVision offered the arrays to the Town at a reduced price of $72,000. The agreement also included that if not purchased in 2021, the Town would have an annual opportunity to buy the arrays at their fair market value. The arrays’ current value is estimated to be $76,000.

The review and recommendation on whether the Town should pursue the purchase of the arrays is made by the Sustainability Committee. Upon review, the committee recommended the Town’s fiscal year 2022 capital improvement budget include funds to purchase the arrays. Based on their analysis of the upfront purchase cost, the arrays’ projected energy output, the buildings current electricity usage, and anticipated maintenance costs, the Committee estimates that the Town can expect approximately $168,000 in net savings over the remaining lifespan of the arrays. This savings is in addition to the nearly $20,000 the Town has saved in electricity costs since the arrays went online in 2014.

If the Town chose not to purchase the arrays, ReVision would have maintained ownership, and the Town would have continued to pay Revision for the energy they produced at a rate equal to CMP’s standard offer. This option would have meant that the Town would not incur any additional costs, but it would also not realize any of the financial benefits of generating solar energy.

In addition to making good financial sense, solar energy also has many environmental benefits, most notably by reducing dependence on nonrenewable energy sources (which contribute to carbon pollution). Maine’s Climate Action Plan, Maine Won’t Wait, completed in 2020, emphasizes the need for renewable energy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help combat climate change. The Plan sets a goal of having 80% of Maine’s energy come from renewable sources by 2030. The Town is proud to have these solar arrays contribute to a greener electrical grid.

The purchase of these solar arrays is timely and relevant, as Scarborough is also in the process of updating its Zoning Ordinance to allow for the development of commercial solar arrays. The Town Council held a public hearing on the proposed zoning update at its October 6th meeting, and public feedback was largely positive. The second reading of the ordinance update was to take place at the Council’s October 20th meeting

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