A view from West Point Road of the woodland where Giri-Sebasco Solar proposes to build a 5.4-acre, 1-megawatt solar array. The array would generate enough electricity to power about 200 homes and is expected to cost more than $2 million, should the Planning Board approve the project. Courtesy photo

Phippsburg officials have scheduled for next month their first look of the site of a proposed solar array to power a local resort that recently changed hands. The project has met resistance from some locals because it involves clearing about 10 acres of woods along West Point Road.

Giri Hotels, a Massachusetts-based hospitality management firm that oversees multiple hotels in Maine, bought the Harbor Resort in May 2022 after nearly a century of family ownership. Among its proposed changes is a 5.4-acre, 1-megawatt solar array in a parcel of woods along Phippsburg’s West Point Road.

That plan has caused alarm among some residents, who packed Phippsburg’s Town Hall Tuesday night to hear more about the project.

Ralph Keyes, who described himself as a “non-resident taxpayer” who cares for a property on West Point Road, questioned whether this was the best location for an array.

“I really commend our switch to solar,” he said, “but I hate to see it at the expense of old forest.”

Keyes, a former high school science teacher, said he worried that Giri was underestimating the value of old-growth forest soils to store carbon.


“If you think I’m being a NIMBY here,” Keyes added, “I live in Brunswick adjacent to the Naval Air Station, and I’d be a ‘YIMBY,’ a yes, please, in my backyard, if you would put solar arrays there.”

He was one of many voices questioning whether a solar project in this location would be a net positive for the environment.

Peter Whitney, owner of Bold Coast Energy and partner in the solar effort, fielded questions at the meeting from the Planning Board and audience Tuesday.

“Will we at least take a gander in the wetlands?” one resident asked after several speakers expressed concerns about how the clear-cut required to install the array might damage the existing wetlands.

The Phippsburg Planning Board, led by Chairperson Marie Varian, scheduled a site walk for 9 a.m. on Dec. 10. That walk will be led by representatives from Giri-Sebasco Solar, the group formed to lead the project.

Whitney has worked in Maine energy for 16 years and currently has projects under development in Cherryfield and Jonesboro. He also is an investor in multiple Giri hotels.


“I’ve known them for a very long time, and I know them as just great, phenomenal people,” Whitney said of Giri’s management. “But you know, they buy something, they want to maximize its revenue — within reason. They don’t want to make enemies by development, they know that’s not a long-term view.”

In response to residents who questioned whether the solar array could be moved to the golf course on the resort’s property or the local transfer station, Whitney replied that while “it’s not our best location, it’s not a horrible location. We’ll have to cut some trees down, but we could do a 12-acre subdivision. If it’s about tree cutting, that’s just part of development.”

Among the concessions that Whitney offered to the town at Tuesday’s meeting were having a trail crew reroute the Robinson’s Rock hiking trail so it isn’t truncated by the array. The firm could also plant a “shield” of trees and foliage so that the panels, which stand about 12 feet high, won’t be visible from the road.

A public hearing will be scheduled for after the new year to discuss construction of the solar array a final time before the Planning Board decides whether to approve the plan.

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