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April 28, 2023

Solar to power up Bar Harbor college, surrounding communities

aerial of solar field and woods Courtesy / ReVision Energy The ReVision Energy solar array in Hampden, seen here under construction, will advance College the Atlantic’s goals to be 100% fossil-free by 2030.

Close to three-quarters of the electricity needed by College of the Atlantic will be provided by a new solar farm in Hampden for at least the next 20 years, according to an agreement between the Bar Harbor college and ReVision Energy.

The project at the small school of 350 students and 35 faculty is slated to go live in the fall, when it's expected renewable power for all non-residential uses will be supplied. The move reflects an institution-wide shift toward 100% renewable energy as the school works toward its goal of eliminating fossil fuels by 2030.

It will also provide electricity to the communities surrounding the solar field, including the Deer Isle/Stonington School District, the town of Blue Hill, and the Bangor Water District. 

“The clean, renewable energy generated by this project will bring the college much closer to our goal of a fossil fuel-free campus while contributing to regional sustainability and smart economic growth,” David Gibson, director of energy at the college, said in a news release.

Gibson is spearheading efforts to fulfill COA’s 2017 Energy Framework and 2022 Energy Policy, which calls for a complete transformation from the use of fossil fuels to renewable energy. 

Over the past two years, insulation and weatherization work has taken place in multiple campus facilities and heat pump systems have taken the place of oil furnaces and hot water heaters, cutting fossil fuel use in buildings by more than 40%. 

Clean electricity from a regional source such as the Hampden project is considered key to the effort. 

The Hampden project is a collaboration between ReVision Energy, a solar firm headquartered in South Portland; Wishcamper Cos. Inc.; and Terrasmart.

Wishcamper — a Portland-based investment firm involved with affordable housing and renewable energy projects in Maine and across the U.S. – is the investor and owner of the project. Its portfolio has had 35 renewable energy developments since 2016, the majority of which are in Maine and New Hampshire. 

Pre-construction of the Hampden facility was completed by ReVision Energy, an employee-owned solar company that serves Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Vermont. ReVision’s teams cleared 3 acres of the 25-acre parcel and graded much of it.

Terrasmart specializes in solar PV installation and solar racking technologies. It streamlined the project’s installation speed by 80% of the industry average and found cost efficiencies in the process, according to a case study. Much of Terrasmart’s efficiency came down to the synchronous nature of its partnership with ReVision Energy and Wishcamper. 


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