Monmouth, ME Photo credit: tjd&a Landscape Architects and Planners
Longroad Development Company, LLC, proposes constructing a distributed generation solar energy facility, the Days Corner Solar Project, in Monmouth, Maine.
The project will produce 4.95 Megawatts (alternating current) of clean power, avoiding emissions of approximately 7,100 tons of CO2 per year, which equates to removing 1,400 cars from Maine’s roads every year. Longroad has contracted this project with Bath Ironworks, a major Maine employer, that will reduce their costs and help maintain a competitive edge and secure Maine jobs. The town of Monmouth will realize an additional source of tax revenue with no additional burden to town services.
General Dynamics Bath Iron Works partners with Longroad Energy to increase clean energy production in Maine
The strategies proposed by the Maine Climate Council in its plan include, "a transition over time to a largely electrified transportation and buildings sector, combined with a transition to a clean electricity sector, allowing for significant greenhouse emissions reductions."
Although Maine law currently exempts smaller, under 5 MW, solar projects that participate in Maine’s net energy billing program,1 the Maine Constitution requires the Legislature to reimburse municipalities for at least 50% of the property tax revenue lost in the previous calendar year because of property tax exemptions.2 Thus, the Town will benefit from property tax revenue even though the Project is exempt.
Based on initial estimates of the Project’s cost for property tax purposes and the Town’s current mil rate of 18.15, the State reimbursement is estimated to be at least tens of thousands of dollars annually and hundreds of thousands of dollar over the life of the project.3
Longroad and the solar industry are also working to pass legislation that will establish a new excise tax on solar projects to provide an additional funding source to the State, thereby helping to ensure long-term funding for the local property tax exemption reimbursement.
Finally, because the Project will not burden the Town’s services like schools or police and fire protection, the new revenue flows to the Town’s bottom line and will lower property taxes for all taxpayers.
1 36 M.R.S. §§ 655(1)(U), 656(1)(K); 35-A M.R.S. § 3209-A; 65-407 C.M.R. ch. 313. 2 Article IV, Part 3, Section 23. 3 The preceding financial information contains projections and forward-looking statements that are subject to a number of risks and uncertainties, many of which are beyond the Company’s control, that could cause the actual results, performance, or achievements of the Company to differ materially from any future results, performances, or achievements expressed or implied by the financial information reported in this projection. The model is not, nor intended to be, an appraisal or guarantee of an assessed value, and there may be positive or negative variations in the actual assessment of the project due to variety of factors, including without limitation the employment of alternative methods of valuation. The financial information presented herein has not been audited or otherwise reviewed by the Company’s external accounting firm.
Maintain Ridge Road in Agriculture and Open Space
The Project’s panels will cover ~36 acres of land, set back more than 270-feet from the road at their closest location, allowing the landowner to continue cultivating substantial portions of his land. In addition, the entire paneled area will be planted and maintained as a meadow, with a diverse mixture of native vegetation, including flowering pollinator species.
The Project will allow the landowner to realize a return on his investment in the land without having to resort to more impactful development like house lots.
Annual contributions to organizations benefiting Monmouth residents
Longroad will make annual contributions of $5,000 per year during the 20-year operating term of the Project (a total of $100,000) to organizations like “Full Plates Full Potential,” which works to eradicate hunger among local schoolchildren, and to charitable organizations which help Monmouth families with their utility bills.
Local schools can use the project as a learning opportunity
Longroad will collaborate with Monmouth’s schools to leverage the project in support of educational programming.
Clean energy will help lead Maine’s post-pandemic economic recovery
Project construction will generate thousands of new jobs, from the building trades to utility line-workers to the maintenance technicians needed to operate and maintain the sites.
The development phase of a solar project like the one proposed for Monmouth supports a diverse array of professional disciplines in Maine including real estate professionals, environmental engineers, surveyors, civil engineers, electrical engineers, and permitting consultants.
Clean energy from the Project will be utilized by a large Maine-based business which employs thousands, reducing their costs and helping them maintain a competitive edge which leads to more Maine jobs.
Clean energy has measurable environmental benefits for the Town of Monmouth, the State of Maine, and the Country
The Project will create environmental benefits which equates to removing 1,400 cars from Maine’s roads every year for the 20-year life of the Project.
The Project, and others like it are being developed in response to a bipartisan solar energy bill (L.D. 1711) to reform Maine’s solar policies and increase access to clean energy.
The Project site was selected for its proximity to CMP’s Monmouth substation and its suitability for solar energy generation. The Project will feature solar panels installed on ground-mounted racks which track the sun’s progress (single axis trackers) and will interconnect to CMP’s electrical lines along Ridge Road.
The project was sited following extensive environmental studies (e.g. wetlands, streams, vernal pools, deer wintering area mapping, and others) to avoid sensitive areas for wildlife and minimize the impact of the Project. The project will have no direct impact to wetlands or streams.
The landowner plans to continue farming the land surrounding the Project, thus preserving the open space. An existing stand of forest to the east and a new screen of native trees and other vegetation that will be planted to the west will minimize the view of the Project from roads and other public viewpoints.
Longroad has engaged extensively with neighbors on its screening plan, which has led to moving both the panels and vegetative screening buffer further away from Ridge Road to preserve the long-distance vistas while limiting visibility of the Project. Native plantings were selected to blend into the surrounding landscape.
The project will require both state (Site Location of Development Act or SLODA) and local permitting review. In July, 2020, Monmouth enacted by town vote a rigorous solar ordinance amendment in addition to the Comprehensive Development Ordinance (CDO) that requires the project to meet standards for safety, visual impacts, glare, farmland preservation, aesthetic/cultural/natural values, screening and noise, in addition to a multitude of environmental standards.