Brunswick approves 20-year solar contract to power town, school facilities

Brunswick is taking a leap toward renewable energy after approving a 20-year off-site solar contract with ReVision Energy.

The agreement is estimated to meet 66% of the combined municipal and school electric expenses — saving the town about $1.8 million over 20 years.

Off-site solar means that Brunswick will not build its own solar array through the contract, but instead enter into a power purchase agreement that will ultimately certify the town’s use of renewable energy. ReVision Energy is a renewable energy contracting company based in South Portland that is paid by investors to build and manage renewable projects.

On Monday, the town council unanimously voted to authorize the contract. The school board unanimously approved the contract last week.

The approvals permit the town manager and superintendent to finalize the agreements, which would allow for the savings to kick in 2023. Brunswick’s projected annual electric expense is $558,291.

“Saving money and using renewable energy are both positive outcomes,” Brunswick School Board Chairperson William Thompson in a statement. “It’s good for the bottom line and sends the right message to our students about conservation and preserving natural resources.”

Due to Maine’s Net Energy Billing Program, the town would essentially be offered a fixed discount of 21.5% through the duration of the contract, resulting in an estimated first-year savings of $79,206.

ReVision Energy investors recoup profit through tax incentives and, in the case of the Brunswick agreement, a roughly 9-cent payment per kilowatt hour that the town uses, which represents a savings of about 2 cents over the current rate.

Council documents show that the agreement leaves about 34% of Brunswick electric expenses to be used for other solar opportunities down the line.

Brunswick Economic and Community Development Director Sally Costello said in Monday’s council meeting that municipal buildings such as the parks and recreation center and the new fire station — which is currently under construction — could potentially serve as on-site solar options.

Costello said Brunswick High School and the Kate Furbish Elementary School are already looking to put in rooftop solar arrays in the near future.

This story will be updated.

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