Eco-Dilemmas: Are Solar Farms Good for Maine?

  • October 25, 2022
    7:00 pm - 8:30 pm

Join CREA and BTLT for a educational conversation on solar energy and array siting.

BTLT in the News, “Brunswick solar array could be model for others in future”

“Brunswick solar array could be model for others in future”

October 18, 2018

On Wednesday, October 17, the key individuals involved in the Crystal Spring Farm Community Solar Project, representatives from the Town of Brunswick and ReVision Energy, as well as local politicians gathered to celebrate the project that provides about 100,000 kilowatt-hours of energy per year to Crystal Spring Farm plus seven other Brunswick families without access to solar electricity where they live.

Everyone enjoys a bright, sunny day, but for the folks at Crystal Spring Farm and their solar array, a little bit of sunshine is that much sweeter.

The 78.6-kilowatt photovoltaic solar energy installation has been online at the Brunswick farm for almost two years, producing, on average, 100,000 kilowatt-hours of clean energy every year, according to Steve Weems, one of the project’s leaders.

Along with other community members, Crystal Spring Farm and the Brunswick Topsham Land Trust, which owns the land the farm is on, partnered with ReVision Energy to establish a net metering agreement in which each participant gets a kWh credit on their electric bill each month. Crystal Spring Farm owns 44 percent of the share, and the other eight participants split the remainder.

Weems; farm owner Seth Kroeck; Angela Twitchell, executive director of the BTLT; and some of the participating families and local politicians gathered at the solar array Wednesday evening for a small celebration marking two years of solar power in the community.

The project supports not only clean energy, Weems said, but also local, community-based agriculture.

When the conversation concerning a solar array first began, Kroeck said there was initial worry from the community that the array, which covers a half acre of pasture, would be too “ugly.”

However, he argued that people should shift their perceptions of beauty. Gesturing to the silo behind him, he said that while the silo was perhaps not a particularly attractive building, it is what people think of when they think of a farm. This, too, should be the case with the array, he said, adding that “it’s part of the iconography of a modern farm.”

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Eco-Dilemmas: Are Solar Farms Good for Maine?

Crystal Spring Farm is home to a small community solar installation

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Join Cathance River Education Alliance and Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust for a joint virtual presentation on solar energy.

Did you know that solar has grown from 21 megawatts to 325 megawatts in Maine in just the last 7 years? We see solar installations, large and small, popping up everywhere. Solar is starkly different from traditional forms of energy: widely available in many locations rather than concentrated in a few; renewable rather than finite in supply; and intermittently generating rather than continuously. These characteristics suggest a re-thinking of the design and operation of the grid and other aspects of our energy infrastructure.

Solar can also affect land use. Concerns have been raised about placing solar farms on agricultural land and in newly-cleared forestland. Should solar be promoted everywhere because of the vast need for renewable energy? Or should solar siting be restricted to reduce land use conflicts or maximize return on investment for existing distribution and transmission infrastructure?

Our energy future is complicated. While we can’t provide all the answers, we’d like to dig into the costs and benefits of this evolving technology. How solar is scaled up will have a profound impact on the economy and environment for this generation and many to follow.  How does one make informed choices as a consumer? As a voter? Through a panel discussion, we’ll get some facts on the table about how solar is different, and hear from different perspectives about where it should go and how it should be distributed, now and into the future.

Fred Horch, co-founder of Spark Applied Efficiency will moderate discussion by panelists from ReVision EnergyCMP, and Stantec.

To register, click here!