BANGOR –– The Town Board agreed Tuesday to take lead agency status for the state-required environmental review of two proposed community solar projects along State Route 11B.
The two projects will each generate 5 megawatts of power, which will be sold to town residents through National Grid, said Barton Pitts of NexAmp, the Boston-based project developer. Residents who sign up for the power can expect to save 10% to 15% on their power bills, Pitts said.
The projects are expected to provide power to roughly 300 homes, he noted.
The NexAmp plans were one of the driving forces for the town’s solar regulations, which were approved in February after multiple revisions and sometimes heated input from town residents.
One of the key concerns residents had raised was the distance a solar project could be built from neighboring properties. Pitts noted that the projects would sit on 23 and 27 acres, would be well back from both neighboring properties and roads and would be screened both by the configuration of the land and by vegetation.
“There’s really nothing there but pasture,” town code enforcement officer Craig Peters said.
The project could potentially fall afoul of one provision in the new law, which limits the height of solar arrays to 12 feet. The solar panels will be built so that they can tilt to follow the sun, and when they are at the extreme end of their tilt cycle, they might temporarily exceed that restriction, Pitts said.
Board members said that given the location of the projects, they would be comfortable granting a variance to the height restriction.
The board has tentatively scheduled a public hearing on the project for Sept. 8 at 7 p.m.
If the required reviews go off without a hitch, construction on the projects –– named Salmon River Renewables and Bangor Solar –– is expected to begin in the spring.