GridSolar, which I wrote about last month, achieved a victory in Saco this week. The Saco City Council said okay to a 20-year lease on city-owned land, adjacent to a former city landfill. It's the first of these types of arrangements for GridSolar, which proposes building medium-scale solar panel installations on 8000 open-field acres around Maine to fill gaps in energy supply at peak-demand times. The proposal is presented as an alternative to larger-scale power-plant build-up, which would require massive transmission-infrastructure improvements.
The terms of the agreement, which can't be acted on until the Maine Public Utilities Commission provides GridSolar with a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity, state that GS will pay an annual lease fee of $25,000
for the property as well as property taxes on all improvements to the
“This land is currently vacant
land that is adjacent to the former City landfill,” Richard Michaud, the
Saco City Administrator, said in a release sent out by GridSolar representative Dennis Bailey. “Given its close proximity to the landfill, it is
unlikely that this parcel would ever be developed. The GridSolar option
provides the City with an ideal solution – we get to maintain a buffer between
the former landfill and lands beyond the parcel, while at the same time benefit
from the lease revenues and property taxes that GridSolar will pay once their
project is approved by the Maine PUC."
Of course, that's the big conditional. GridSolar initially filed its Petition for Finding of Public Convenience and Necessity and related papers at the beignning of May, in effect applying to be a transmission utilty in Maine. In June, Central Maine Power filed a Motion to Dismiss, saying that GridSolar is a generation project more than a transmission project. GridSolar has filed a letter in response to the motion, which counters that when viewed as a whole, GridSolar addresses transmission issues through generation, and therefore should be considered a transmission project.
Now they wait for the PUC. In the meantime, they are pursuing other agreements like the one in Saco.