Processing Your Payment

Please do not leave this page until complete. This can take a few moments.

July 27, 2021

Belfast community solar project goes live, powering up to 1,000 homes and businesses

Courtesy / SunRaise Investments A new community solar project in Belfast is live, expected to serve nearly 1,000 Maine residential and small-business customers.

A new solar power project in Belfast is live, generating up to seven megawatts of energy for nearly 1,000 Maine residential and small-business customers.

The community solar project is a partnership between PowerMarket, a Brooklyn, N.Y.-based solar management company, and SunRaise Investments, a solar energy developer, owner and operator headquartered in Portsmouth, N.H. The Belfast development is the third the companies have launched to start producing power in Maine. 

A 1.35-megawatt array in Gardiner was the first, followed by a project in Baldwin, of similar size to Belfast's.

The Belfast array is on Perkins Road and covers roughly 20 acres of a former hay field.

“We are thrilled that this community solar project has gone online and is now providing the grid with clean energy,” Patrick Jackson, co-founder of SunRaise, said in a news release.

“Being from New England, our goal in Maine has been simple — provide more New Englanders access to clean energy. Community solar is a way to provide people from all walks of life — homeowners, renters, business owners and more — access to renewable energy.”

SunRaise develops, owns and operates the projects, while PowerMarket, with an office in Monson, works to find and manage subscribers. 

Once subscribed, the companies say, customers receive renewable energy credits towards their regular electric bill and receive up to a 15% discount, depending on the project.

Projects like these are coming on line across Maine at a fast pace as a result of 2019 state legislation that expanded opportunities for solar companies to build. Among the changes was a law that raised the cap on net metering — the ability to store excess generated energy for use or sale — for arrays from 660 kilowatts to up to five megawatts.

PowerMarket works with other solar developers as well. They also work with community organizations as fundraisers, where they donate to the organization for every customer subscribed. Similar companies, like Boston-based NexAmp, also provide management services.

Many of the solar companies working in Maine are tied to out-of-state developers, like the recent sale of eight community solar facilities to New Jersey-based Nautilus Solar Energy LLC. Other companies are Maine-based, such as ReVision Energy, which has projects throughout New England, and Maine Community Solar, which has over 200 Maine businesses enrolled in its projects.

With all the new growth in solar, the Maine Legislature is stepping back to assess and make modifications as needed. A bill was recently passed that initiates a process to adjust billing incentives for commercial solar projects between two and five megawatts, which sponsor Rep. Seth Berry, D-Bowdoinham, said will better protect utility customers and the long-term health of the solar industry.

The new law, which was supported by the Natural Resources Council of Maine and many Maine solar companies, would keep billing incentives in place for projects below two megawatts, which is up to 400 times larger than a typical residential rooftop array.

Editor's Note: This article has been revised to clarify the description of the recent legislation.

Sign up for Enews


Order a PDF