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Push for community solar in line with Maine goals

Published: Oct. 14, 2021 at 4:12 PM EDT
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HERMON, Maine (WABI) - October is Sustainability Month.

A growing trend of helping the state use greener energy is community solar.

We spoke to a representative of a company working with a new solar field in Hermon that’s hoping people will get on board and save some money in the process.

“Maine has lofty goals of getting to 80% renewable energy by 2030 and 100% by 2050,” said Nico Valette, who works for Ampion Renewable Energy. They don’t own this solar field in Hermon. They try to get customers to sign up to have their electricity originate here.

“You don’t have to build anything,” he said. “There’s no upfront costs. You get credits on your utility bills, and then for every dollar that you save that we put on your utility bill you get to credit.”

Valette says a customer of Versant or Central Maine Power can sign on and save.

“So how it works is if your Versant bill is $100, we’ll try to get you $100 in credits on your utility bill,” he explained. “And then you get the 15% savings because there’s a flat rate to protect consumers. So, for every dollar that you save, we charge you, 85 cents and then those 85 cents go back into renewable energy generation, and you save the 15% guaranteed so that rate is flat. It’s meant so that consumers can get that guarantee 15% savings off of utility credits that they receive.”

An effort backed by the state with those goals set for 2030 and 2050 in mind.

“They’re really helping us in supporting this local development, and then two, I think it’s important to just think about, yeah, there’s a concerted effort to make this happen, and that’s why it’s not too good to be true. The state of Maine is behind this program, and that’s why you’re also seeing all these benefits come back to Mainers because there’s been a concerted effort to think through this and make sure that it’s benefiting people here.”

A spokesperson for the Maine Public Utilities Commission tells us Ampion is among the companies registered with the state to provide community solar.

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