2017-08-23 / Front Page

$2.5M solar array coming to Landing

BY JOHN SWINCONECK
Times Record Staff

BRUNSWICK

A solar array that could generate enough electricity to power the equivalent of hundreds of homes may be operational at the former Brunswick Naval Air Station by the end of the year.

Portland-based ReVision Energy plans to build the 1.5 megawatt solar farm adjacent to the runway at Brunswick Executive Airport. Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority Executive Director Steve Levesque said the array will primarily power airport property, including airport buildings, runway lights and beacons.

The system will be located on a fenced-in section of the airport, specifically a 10.6-acre abandoned concrete runway and taxiway to the northeast of the airfield. The array itself will cover about 6.5 acres.

Levesque confirmed that glare from the sun’s rays bouncing off solar panels would not be an issue for pilots as they approach or land at the airport’s runway.

MRRA will purchase all energy delivered by the array at below market rates, according to an environmental assessment posted on MRRA’s website.

Brunswick Landing consumes a total of 3.5 megawatts, Levesque said. An anaerobic digester already provides 1 megawatt of power generated by organic waste.

The digester and solar array combined would generate about 70 percent of electricity used at Brunswick

Landing.

“Our goal is to be 100 percent self-sufficient using renewable resources and be a net-zero property,” Levesque said in an interview on Tuesday.

Fortunat Mueller, co-founder and managing partner of ReVision, said the project will cost about $2.5 million.

A number of regulatory boards have already approved the project, including the USDA, which is considering a grant to help fund the project. The Federal Aviation Administration will review the project as well as the Brunswick Planning & Development Department. The array is a permitted use and will not need planning board approval, said Mueller.

“Our hope is to be through permitting hurdles by the end of September and build shortly after that,” Mueller said.

The project may be completed by the end of this year or early 2018.

Mueller said the project is in line with MRRA’s goal to provide its tenants with power “at a lower cost and higher reliability.” The amount of power generated would be enough to power about 300 typical homes, according to Mueller.

“We’re excited that we’re at point where … solar can be cleaner and more local, and cheaper than the alternative,” Mueller said. “The project will save MRRA money from day one.”

The array will be constructed and owned — at first — by Pegasus Solar under the auspices of ReVision, which will sell power generated to MRRA.

Mueller said ReVision is hoping to work with an investor with both commercial and local interests who may eventually take over ownership of Pegasus. Mueller declined to say who the investor may be but hoped to make an announcement soon.

The ‘microgrid’

Mueller described Brunswick Landing as a microgrid, the term used for local energy grid that can operate autonomously from a main grid and often uses alternative energy as a power source. In this case, the solar array will feed into MRRA’s microgrid.

In June, Introspective Systems announced it would use Brunswick Landing’s microgrid as a “a test-bed” to help study grid architecture, control and management technology, according to a release from the Portland based company.

“In the next year they will install 1,500 sensors around the grid,” Mueller said. “It’s an opportunity to do some real innovative stuff at Brunswick Landing.”

This won’t be the first solar farm on the former base. Bowdoin College operates a smaller, 654 kilowatt installation on three acres of property that it owns there.

jswinconeck@timesrecord.com

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