Concentration of CO2 in the Atmosphere

Green Power Series: Solar Farms in the Northeast

Part II – Bolstering Economic CSF Investment for Maine and Vermont

(This is the second in a series of Green Energy Times (G.E.T.) articles that focus on community solar farms (CSFs). The first, in the October issue, was a general overview of CSFs, while this one covers several CSFs located in Maine and Vermont. The next issue in February 2022 will cover New Hampshire and New York.)

Toby Martin

Community solar farms (CSFs) happen when a group of people invests and shares in the benefits of a solar array where solar power is generated for investment or subscription. Investors purchase percentage shares of a solar generating array, while subscribers pay a monthly bill for their power usage, usually at a 10% to 15% savings below the public utility’s standard offer rate.

Long Pond solar farm is located in Southwest Harbor on Mount Desert Island. It is 840KW and sits on an old landfill. (Revision Energy)


Maine has several companies with CSF sites around the state that are essentially independent power providers for investment or subscription. One of these, ReVision Energy, handles all aspects of establishing and maintaining their CSFs, which include selecting a site, design, licensing, construction, legal work, and all operational requirements once the system goes online. All of these are governed by state regulations, which are guided and enforced through statutes which fall under the jurisdiction of the state legislature and the Public Utilities Commission (PUC). When solar farms began to operate in Maine, state regulations allowed up to ten owner-members to participate in one system; today up to 100 are allowed, depending on the system’s size and energy production capability.

ReVision, a Maine energy company with headquarters in South Portland, which also operates in Massachusetts and New Hampshire, began in Maine, and built its first CSF operation in 2014 for the ten shareholders of the Sunnycroft Farm CSF in the town of South Paris with a $40,000 startup grant from Efficiency Maine. Sited on the roof of an old chicken barn, it is a 51-kW system that provides electricity for the homes of its nine offsite owner-members.

Another nine-member ReVision CSF followed with the Edgecomb Community Solar Farm Association of Lincoln County. Each of them contributed $10-30,000 per investor over 25 years, which they planned to meet with a 10-year payoff date for the 182 solar panel system.

A more recent ReVision venture, the Long Pond CSF, is located in Southwest Harbor in Mount Desert Island. In keeping with ReVision’s goal to locate its CSFs on otherwise “undesirable” land not in conflict with environmentally important uses such as farming or forestry, Long Pond is sited on a decommissioned and unserviceable landfill owned by and leased from Eastern Maine Recycling.

In 2019 the Maine legislature expanded a CSF’s power generation limit to allow generation of up to 5 megawatts (5,000 kilowatts), able to power 600 to 700 Maine homes, and which rapidly attracted out-of-state investment from as far away as California, and the Public Utilities Commission’s list of approved CSF businesses recently stood at 231, of which only about 30 are based in Maine.

ReVision’s more recent larger scale commercial solar farms include the 792 kW Streamside CSF in Pittston, the 1,950 Carravale CSF in the town of Knox, and the 839 kW Long Pond CSF in Southwest Harbor, and they have also developed another dozen in the 50-kW range. Future plans include adding 13 more CSF projects in Maine by 2023, which will generate an estimated 44 megawatts of power.

Sundog Solar, based in Maine’s midcoastal town of Searsport, building on 12 successful years of experience installing solar-oriented systems for homes, municipalities and nonprofits, has recently begun its expansion into investment-based CSFs by developing partnerships that will focus on Level 1 and Level 2 designs. Maine regulations allow Level 1 CSF systems to generate up to 25 kilowatts, and Level 2 rules allow systems to generate between 26 kilowatts and 2 megawatts.

Plans are under way to develop Sundog’s first CSF investor project, using Sundog’s collaborative partners model, to be located in a coastal community on town land. It will combine two stages of development: a 300-kilowatt municipal utility and an added system to provide power for up to 40 community investor subscribers to participate. Once all of the necessary agreements have been made among the parties involved, the project will be publicized.

The Springfield Edgewood solar farm in Springfield, VT is a 788kW system consisting of 2,160 375-watt panels. (Norwich Solar)


Like Maine, Vermont has adopted CSFs, because innovative CSF developers have found that they can engineer their solar farms to suit the needs of the groups and organizations who hire them.

Norwich Solar has its headquarters in White River Junction. It also has an office in Brunswick, ME, and covers New Hampshire, serving clients who value environmental, social and economic objectives. Their clients include nonprofits, municipalities, schools, and hospitals. One of those clients, Terrace Communities, serves three assisted living communities in Manchester, White River Junction and Woodstock. The commercial CSF system is built of 2,160 345-watt solar panels.

Another Norwich Solar client in Vermont is Springfield Edgewood, located in Springfield, duplicated the design and power of the Terrace Communities system with 2,160 345-watt solar panels that provide net- metered power for low income and public housing in Vermont and New Hampshire.

Norwich Solar’s collaborative, creative approach to their work in Vermont is reflected in the Thetford Community Solar Farm in Thetford, where Norwich Solar teamed up with Wolfe Energy to create a dual-use system of 585 375-watt solar panels serving two nonprofits, the Thetford Library Federation and the Thetford Water Co-op, as well as local community members who were able to purchase three-panel shares of the system to offset their long-term energy costs. The system is estimated to save about $54,000 in energy costs annually, as well as offsetting 210 tons of CO2 each year.

Another notable Vermont energy corporation, Encore Renewable Energy, a certified B corporation, partners with organizations to provide community scale solar projects sited on old municipal landfills and gravel pits. The town of Jericho and Vermont Electrical Cooperative have partnered with Encore to develop two projects: a 2.3-megawatt system built on an unused, closed landfill, and a 2.1 MW system on a former gravel pit. When combined with two other projects, the system will add nearly 8 megawatts for distribution. Along with that, the system also includes a 4–8-megawatt lithium-iron solar storage component at the landfill site.

Toby Martin lives in Islesboro, ME, where he works locally and statewide to strengthen Maine’s clean energy sustainability. A founding member of the Islesboro Energy Team and the Islesboro Energy Committee, he also coordinates the Islesboro Energy Conference, and he contributes to Green Energy Times as a writer and member of its Maine distribution team.

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