Hope solar project awaits DEP approval

Planning Board approves project
By Gabriel Blodgett | Oct 08, 2019
Photo by: Gabriel Blodgett Hope is waiting for DEP approval to build a solar array in True Park

Hope — At the Oct. 2 meeting, the Planning Board approved the proposed 2,590-square-foot solar array in True Park by a vote of 4-0 with Lewis Merrifield abstaining and Jessica Snyder absent. The decision was contingent upon the town's receiving a permit from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection allowing the array to be built on freshwater wetlands and placing a metal swing gate at the access entrance on Route 105.

At the previous Planning Board meeting, several members questioned the need for the solar array, based on the limited electricity needs of the four town buildings that would be powered by it. Following an independent energy audit in April, it was determined that the town would have to install heat pumps at the Town Office, Hope Corner Fire Station and South Hope Fire Station to use enough electricity to make the project worthwhile. The fourth town building, the sand shed, was not included in the audit and would not require a heat pump.

According to Town Administrator Samantha Mank, however, the issue of how beneficial the project would be to the town falls under the jurisdiction of the Board of Selectmen, who previously voted in favor of the project.

She said the heat pumps would be purchased by Hope Solar LLC, the company created by Hope resident Rick Bresnahan, which is responsible for the Power Purchase Agreement to buy the array. In five years, the town will have the option to buy the array from Hope Solar. At the June annual town meeting, residents voted to allot $9,600 for the current fiscal year for a reserve account to fund the eventual purchase.

At the Oct. 2 meeting, board members also discussed whether the solar project would be permitted under the deed by which the town was given the park by William True, but the selectmen previously voted that a solar array would not violate the covenants in the deed.

Mank said the PPA and capital equipment lease contracts are with an attorney to ensure that any development is in accordance with the deed.

Concerns were also raised about the safety of the array, but Mank said all of the technology would be enclosed within the panels and they would pose no danger to the public.

Mank said the town hopes to hear back from the DEP by Nov. 1, but there is no firm timeline for the decision.

Comments (1)
Posted by: Mary A McKeever | Oct 09, 2019 16:27

Progress and should save the town money. Good idea. I remember when school kids would fill the back of the school with such joy and fun at recess. Times change and now the park will be lost to a good cause. It sure makes me sad though, for the many years the school operated there and children played  at recess with joy!

Mary "Mickey" (Brown) McKeever ..former store owner and Post Master ......+:0).....

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