Construction has started in Winthrop on a solar energy project that will provide electricity to the Maine power grid and cost savings to MaineHealth.

Nexamp has broken ground on a solar farm in Winthrop that will benefit MaineHealth by lowering its energy costs while adding 5 megawatts to the grid. Photo courtesy of Nexamp

The project, on 25 acres, is being engineered and built by Nexamp and Borrego, a developer of large-scale renewable energy projects. It’s expected to be completed early next year.

The 5 megawatts AC/7.6 megawatts DC project is on land owned by the family of Thomas Saliba, a former trustee of MaineHealth and Maine Medical Center. Proceeds from the land lease will be donated to MaineHealth, the state’s largest health care system.

Five megawatts of solar energy can typically power more than 800 homes. According to national trade group the Solar Energy Industries Association, on average, 1 megawatt of solar capacity generates enough electricity to meet the needs of 164 U.S. homes.

Saliba said he likes the idea of being able to preserve the land while also providing support for health care and the environment.

In a statement issued Tuesday, Nexamp and MaineHealth said the project will offset part of the health care system’s power needs, making it a key component of MaineHealth’s portfolio of nine solar projects.

The Winthrop project will help MaineHealth save on energy bills annually so those resources used to pay for electricity can be reinvested to serve the nonprofit health system’s mission, it said.

The project is being built on land previously slated for residential development and will offset thousands of metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions over the lifetime of the project, the release said.

“We are excited to see progress toward the solar portfolio that we support becoming operational, and the Winthrop solar farm is especially meaningful to us because of the involvement of the Saliba family,” said Troy Trejo, vice president of system development of MaineHealth.

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