Last week, we talked about the history and benefits of South Portland’s municipal solar projects. In addition to projects owned or administered by the city, there are many other types of solar projects, including solar that residents can participate in.

A community solar project near Route 1 in Belfast, Maine. Greg M. Cooper photo/Borrego Solar

With the state legislation passed in 2019 that encourages the development of renewable energy projects across Maine, solar farms have been popping up left and right. Not only do community solar farms assist Maine in the transition to renewable energy, but they offer residents the opportunity to be a part of this transition with cost savings and no long-term commitment. With plentiful program options available to South Portland residents, it is clear that there has never been a better time to participate in community solar.

What is community solar?

While homeowners can install solar panels directly on their property — lowering their energy bills, earning tax rebates and reducing their dependence on fossil fuels — this is not always a feasible option. The projects are rather expensive and not accessible for all South Portland residents, such as renters who do not have a say in what can be installed on their property or homeowners who lack an appropriate setup for rooftop panels.

Community solar programs offer all residents the opportunity to contribute to and benefit from solar energy, making it an affordable and inclusive renewable energy option.

When you participate in a community solar program, you are investing in a solar farm that produces electricity. The array sends the power to the grid for distribution and consumption. Your home still gets power from your standard utility provider, but you get credited on your utility bill for the energy generated by the solar farm you are affiliated with.


By subscribing to a solar farm, you are not only investing in solar development across the state of Maine, but in your savings as well, with your electric bill being reduced between 10 percent and 15 percent when you switch over to community solar.

With no upfront cost, eventual savings, and the ability to cancel your subscription at any time, there are few downsides to signing up for a program.

How do I join?

Community solar is completely free to sign up for and works in tandem with your utility provider. When you participate in a community solar program, you get credits on your utility bills and pay a reduced rate to your solar provider.

There are many different community solar programs available to residents, and finding the program that is best for you is an important step in joining community solar. To get started, explore the community solar programs that serve South Portland. There are plentiful resources on community solar that can help you better understand solar companies, projects, and your community solar offer, and can guide you to ask the right questions when choosing your best fit program.

The Maine Office of the Public Advocate, for example, provides useful community solar information and resources on its website, including a list of all registered community solar companies. View public advocate’s resources at


In other news: Join the South Portland Waste Reduction Committee

South Portland’s Waste Reduction Committee assists the city in transitioning to a zero-waste community by advising the Sustainability Department on policies, programs and initiatives that improve single-stream recycling, divert organic waste, minimize single-use plastics and enhance a circular economy.

The South Portland Waste Reduction Committee currently has three open member positions for District 3, District 5 and at-large. The committee meets on the third Wednesday of each month at 6:30 p.m. via Zoom. For more information, or if you are interested in joining, email Casey Zorn at

Our Sustainable City is a recurring column in the Sentry intended to provide residents with news and information about sustainability initiatives in South Portland. Follow the Sustainability Office on Instagram and Facebook @soposustainability.

Mia Ambroiggio is a Greater Portland Council of Governments Resilience Corps fellow serving in the Sustainability Office. She can be reached at

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