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July 30, 2018

Pepperell Mill in Biddeford set to become Maine's largest private solar project

Photo / Tim Greenway
Photo / Tim Greenway
Fortunat Mueller, left, and Phil Coupe, co-founders of ReVision Energy, in Portland. Coupe joined Pepperell Mill Campus CEO Doug Sanford at the Biddeford mill complex on Friday to announce plans for what's expected to become Maine's largest private solar project, with nearly 1,200 panels to be installed on the rooftops of the 1 million-square-foot mill complex.

The Pepperell Mill Campus in Biddeford is slated to become Maine's largest private solar project, with nearly 1,200 panels to be installed on the rooftops of the 1 million-square-foot mill complex.

The Journal Tribune reported that Pepperell Mill Campus CEO Doug Sanford and Phil Coupe, co-founder and managing partner of ReVision Energy, announced the plans Friday afternoon at an event attended by U.S. Sen. Angus King, I-Maine.

The newspaper reported that Coupe said construction would begin in the fall and is expected to be finished before Christmas. The panels are expected to have a 40-year useful lifespan, with Coupe stating the project would pay for itself in 10 years, the newspaper reported.

Maine Public reported that Sanford expects to spend between $500,000 and $1 million to install more than an acre of panels and operating systems. Sanford plans to fold the solar project's capital costs into rents, Maine Public reported, with a goal of paying off that investment within 10 years.

"We've been chasing this for probably 10 years," Sanford said.

The Journal Tribune reported that Coupe said the cost of solar panels and related infrastructure has decreased in recent years, adding that Maine has 30% more sunshine than Germany, the world leader in solar adoption.

"The combination of cheap solar technology, free sunshine and strong federal tax credits ensures that Pepperell Mill will get a very strong economic and environmental return on solar investing," Couple told the newspaper.

Adoption of solar power is growing

ReVision Energy, which is employee-owned and has more than 250 employees across five locations, has moved steadily up the rankings of Solar Power World magazine's annual rankings since first appearing in 2011. It ranked 15th among all residential solar installers, fifth of all rooftop solar installers, and No. 1 among all rooftop solar installers in Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts, the company reported on its website.

Solar Power World reported that the U.S. solar market in 2017 installed 10,608 megawatts of power, down from its biggest year ever in 2016, when more than 15,000 MW were installed (spurred by the anticipated expiration of a 30% federal tax credit that was eventually renewed). Even so, the magazine reported, 2017's total represented 40% growth over 2015.

A major highlight of 2017, the magazine reported, was the non-residential market growing 28% year-over-year, the fourth straight year of annual growth for commercial, industrial and community solar.

In 2017, 30% of all new electric generating capacity brought online in the United States came from solar, second only to new natural gas capacity.

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