Powering Up With Solar Energy in Limestone
March 10, 2023
The town of Limestone in Aroostook County received a $50,000 Community Action Grant to help purchase a pair of existing solar arrays located at the former Loring Air Force Base. A second $50,000 Community Action Grant is allowing the town to repair and upgrade the solar arrays, boosting the electricity generation of the systems. The town is partnering with the Maine School of Science and Mathematics (MSSM) and together will reduce their electricity bills by 95% with energy from the arrays.
Together the town and the school plan to use the savings to pay off the purchase price of the arrays in approximately seven years, after which they will enjoy the electricity from the solar panels at no cost.
“The Community Resilience Partnership grant demonstrates Maine’s proactive leadership towards a transition to renewable energy and provides essential support for local projects,” said Chuck Kelley, Chair of the Limestone Solar Committee. “The volunteers of the Limestone Solar Committee appreciate the opportunity to be a member of the partnership and these grant funds will help our community achieve strategic actions that were identified through the Maine Won’t Wait climate plan.”
“This Community Resilience Partnership grant helps a small town and a small school take charge of their energy future. As both recent geopolitics and local rates have shown, energy security is key in planning for a sustainable future,” said Sam Critchlow, Executive Director of the Maine School of Science and Mathematics in Limestone. “As a school leader, I’m eager to take charge of our own energy needs. As an educator, I’m excited by opportunity to involve our students, the next generation of climate leaders, in planning for a sustainable future.”
Volunteers from the town of 2,200 residents along with students from MSSM and Northern Maine Community College have helped with site maintenance as well as the repairs and upgrades to the solar systems. High school students are utilizing a data feed from the panels to monitor solar energy production at the sites and verify the school’s energy savings.
This is not the town’s first venture into solar energy. The Limestone Water and Sewer District built a solar array in 2018 on undevelopable well-head land area to offset energy usage at Limestone’s wastewater treatment facility. That project’s success convinced Limestone residents to authorize the town to purchase the arrays at Loring and increase the town’s savings from solar energy.