Source: The Eastern Gazette
by Mike Lange
MILO — A Portland-based company has signed a letter of intent to lease 60 acres of land in the Eastern Piscataquis Business Park in Milo to build a solar farm that could generate up to 10 megawatts of energy.
According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, the number of homes powered by a megawatt of solar energy depends on average sunshine, electricity consumption, temperature and wind. Nationally, that’s 164 homes per megawatt. So the Milo project might supply enough power for 1,640 homes.
Weather permitting, Dirigo Solar could start construction this spring, Milo Town Manager Damien Pickel said. “This has been an 18-month process,” he said. “If we had come to terms earlier, the system might have been ready to go online by now. But it’s a huge move for Dirigo Solar and the town of Milo.”
Terms of the agreement are conﬁdential for now, Pickel said, but the lease will be for 30 years. “It’s more of an advantage to the town to lease the land and collect payments on a regular basis,” he said. “Plus, thefll be paying personal property taxes on the equipment.”
Pickel also conﬁrmed that Ron Desmarais, who already owns two businesses in the park, has purchased another 43 acres in the park. “That means we only have two acres left to sell,” Pickel said. “Years ago, some people thought that the town was wasting money investing in this park. Look at us now.”
In addition to Desmarais’ Maine Alternative Solutions and Eastern Maine Shooting Supplies, the park also has a new LePage bakery distribution center and thrift store set to open this spring. Milo Family Practice, the Three Rivers Kiwanis Club and the Harrigan Learning Center and Museum are already in the park.
Pickel said that Dirigo Solar also plans to use local contractors to install the solar panels, thus creating jobs in an area of the county hard hit by the stagnant economy.
“They chose Milo for several reasons,” he said. “The land is ﬂat and clear and adjacent to a major highway (Route 11).”
While Dirigo Solar is a relatively new company, they’ve become a major player in Maine’s growing solar energy market.
In December 2015, the Maine Public Utilities Commission awarded a contract to Dirigo Solar to develop several photovoltaic solar farms statewide that can generate up to 75 megawatts of electricity, enough to power at least 10,000 Maine homes.
While solar energy represents only a small fraction of electricity generated in Maine, the cost of panels has decreased signiﬁcantly in recent years.
Also, a federal tax credit on solar installation that was slated to expire at the end of last year was through 2019, according to Bloomberg News.
Dirigo Solar was founded by Brian Murphy, Nicholas Mazuroski and Annie Hortstmeyer.
Murphy is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame and Tulane Law School who has developed case studies and client testimony on ﬁnancial incentives and regulatory protocols for submission to legislative and regulatory authorities.
Mazuroski has a background in business development, operations and fundraising; studied politics, philosophy and economics at Oxford University, and earned his BA in political science from Bates College.
Hortstmeyer is in charge of Dirigo’s site management operations from landowner relations to providing site due diligence for project development. She’s also a Bates College graduate.
Mazuroski, who is also the company’s spokesperson, is on vacation until Jan. 17 and was unable to be reached for comment.