Sebago set to save costs with new solar array

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SEBAGO — The town’s installation of nearly 180 solar panels on its salt shed should eliminate over 114,000 pounds of greenhouse gas emissions each year and “offset a large portion of our electrical dependence on the electrical grid for many years to come,” the town manager says.

“It’s time to start thinking about getting away from fossil fuels and thinking about renewable energy sources, and I think it’s good for our planet and for our children and for our children’s children,” said Town Manager Michele Bukoveckas.

The solar panel array will begin functioning Friday, Oct. 12.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held last week to celebrate the project, which got its start 2½ years ago on Board of Selectmen member Phil Lowe’s initiative.

Lowe, who said he has “always been energy conscious,” hopes the array “will be the initiation of a whole thought process of being more energy conscious.” Lowe heats his own home with geothermal energy.

The town, at the suggestion of Selectmen Chairman Tim Mayberry, decided to buy the array from ReVision Energy outright using a five-year loan. That arrangement allows the town to start using its power immediately, Bukoveckas said.

“The power that the grid generates goes out to CMP, and then they essentially buy the power from us, so our light bills will be a lot lower. Day 1, we will start seeing the benefit of having the array,” she said.

Lowe said the system cost $157,000, but the town would have spent about $100,000 on power from CMP anyway, meaning that the cost of purchasing the array is about $57,000.

“We come out really ahead of the game. This array is going to perform for 35 years. We’re gonna save the town between $300,000 and $400,000 over the next 35 years,” he said.

The energy credits from the array will be go to the energy accounts at the salt shed, the Town Office, the Town Hall, EMS, Public Works, the transfer station and the hazardous waste building.

The salt shed was chosen as the site of the array due to the size of the building’s roof and its southern exposure. ReVision will maintain the panels for the next five years.

Sebago also has recently undertaken other environmentally conscious initiatives, such as installing LED lights in street lights, which will be completed this month, according to Bukoveckas. An electric vehicle charging station was installed outside the town office Oct. 1.

Lowe said that towns should “always look for the best, most energy efficient ways to do things.”

He continued, “We really owe it to ourselves and our kids and our grandkids to start doing the smart things that we can to make a better environmental impact. This solar array is a piece of forward thinking.”

Jane Vaughan can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or jvaughan@keepmecurrent.com.

With elementary school children looking on, Sebago Board of Selectmen member Phil Lowe and Town Manager Michele Bukoveckas celebrate the installation of nearly 180 new solar panels at a ceremony Oct. 4. 

It took ReVision Energy one week to install the panels on the Sebago salt shed.