Cape Elizabeth could save over $120,000 per year in electric costs once a solar field is up and running at the old landfill, town officials say. Contributed / Cape Elizabeth Planning Board

Cape Elizabeth’s capped landfill may soon become the source of enough electricity to power over 70% of the town’s municipal and school buildings.

Encore, a Vermont-based solar company, could begin construction as soon as October on a solar field at the old landfill adjacent to the transfer station off Spurwink Avenue, near Gull Crest Fields.

“It’s an ideal location for a solar installation because you’re not ever going to be able to build on top of it,” Town Manager Matt Sturgis told The Forecaster. “It’s one of the best ways to make use of an area that, pretty much, is unusable.”

The town expects that the solar field will save roughly $123,000 a year in electricity costs, and the town will earn an extra $4,000 per year from Encore for leasing the land to them. The projections assume a 2% increase in the market price of electricity so, if that increase is higher, the savings will be as well.

It’s a project the town began pursuing in 2019. It was delayed by the pandemic but planning picked up again this year.

“This past spring, Encore ended up going through the planning board process and got their approval,” Sturgis said. “Now, we’re teed up and getting back to where we initially planned on being about three years ago.”

Cape Elizabeth does not have any concrete plan to bring in more renewable energy sources to power its municipal and school buildings, but Sturgis said a successful solar field could present other opportunities.

“You can always look at solar installations like on the pool building, for instance, or over at the high school – areas that we may have in the future for smaller installations,” he said. “Wherever we can find the opportunity to be more carbon neutral or reduce our footprint, we’re going to pursue those opportunities in a robust manner, but right now we’re looking to get this project completed.”

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