LDA nears agreement with solar developer

8 years ago

LIMESTONE — Ranger Solar, a utility-scale solar development company based in Yarmouth and focused on the New England region, has been working out a land lease agreement with the Loring Development Authority since last summer. Since then, both groups have been discussing the fine points of the contract and LDA President Carl Flora predicts that the agreement will be finalized within weeks.

According to Flora, LDA’s revenue will be based on a fairly complex formula, but “as it’s shaping up, it will be based on the lease.”

Ranger’s Environmental Permitting Director Aaron Svedlow spoke during the board’s June 8 meeting and presented a map with 12 pieces of land and approximately 1,051 acres outlined.

The group’s goal of seeking a 100-megawatt production will be easily met with the 1,000 plus acres of land. As the project moves forward, Ranger Solar plans on investigating the land further so the total area for the project comes closer to “600 or 750 acres.”

According to Svedlow, the highlighted areas are roughly 40 percent more than they need. 

“Our intention is to get power purchase agreements for this project through NB Energy,” said Svedlow, “that would go through New Brunswick to southern Maine.” 

While the group’s primary intention is to sell power to NB Energy, they are also considering the possibility of local use.

“There is a lot of value of solar to the grid,” Svedlow said, “because it can help regulate load and can provide stability to electrical grid systems. So there could be value to the regional grid here in northern Maine from solar power.”

Svedlow added that there is a possibility of interconnection with ISO New England, but that they are “operating under the assumption that it will not be happening any time in the near future.”

Ranger has also met with Emera officials and plans on holding continued meetings as the lease agreement is finalized.

“We wanted to secure our lease first before we filed a formal application to interconnect,” said Svedlow, “because it’s a significant expense to file that with them. Based on our preliminary conversations, there is likely capacity to handle this facility. We will also be required to pay for any upgrades if they are necessary.”

Some of the areas proposed in the lease are heavily wooded, and Ranger Solar is prepared to handle all of the construction necessary for grid installation.

“It’s something we’re comfortable doing, most of our projects have wooded area, so we have developed a good approach for clearing.” Svedlow said.

LDA board member Dana Saucier asked about the construction timeframe, and “what kind of manpower will be required for on-site maintenance purposes.”

“For 100-megawatt project, we’re looking at up to 350 short-term construction jobs during that period,” answered Svedlow. “We anticipate that being up to a year, possibly longer. During our long-term operation, we will probably have three or four people handling operations and maintenance, which includes inspecting inverters, mowing, and so on.”

In addition to clearing out wooded areas, the energy company plans to install “somewhere between 100,000 and 500,000 4- by 2½-foot panels.”

Flora assured the board that, for the most part, day-to-day operations will be able to continue normally on the former Air Force base.

“We won’t necessarily be inhibited from building a tall structure on our property,” said the board president, “but if it causes an economic loss because of a loss of electricity then there has to be compensation and we may have to relocate panels at our expense.”

Once the agreement is finalized, Ranger Solar will begin construction in 2009.