The Midcoast Friends Meeting celebrated the completion of a 176-panel solar farm on its property at 77 Belvedere Road in Damariscotta on Sunday, June 11. The Friends will not use the solar farm, but volunteered their property for a farm that nine homeowners in southern Maine could benefit from.
Guy Marsden, a member of the Midcoast Friends Meeting, said the genesis of the solar farm dates back to 2015, when Pope Francis published an encyclical about the environment and climate change.
“It really inspired us to see what more we could do to help the planet,” Marsden said.
The Friends formed a climate justice group to explore different ways in which they could better help the planet, Marsden said. In one discussion, the topic of solar energy came up.
The Friends previously discussed the topic a couple of years ago, when they decided to install three solar panels on the roof of the meeting house. The three panels were enough to offset the building’s electricity use, Marsden said.
“But then someone brought up the Edgecomb solar farm,” Marsden said, referring to the first-ever community solar farm in Maine on River Road in Edgecomb. “We’re all set here with our three panels, but we thought if a farm could help people who might not be able to have solar panels where they live, it’d be worth looking into.”
The Friends reached out to Portland-based ReVision Energy, which has installed several solar energy projects in Lincoln County, including community solar farms in Edgecomb and Wiscasset.
In addition to the company’s local work, one of the things that drew the Friends to ReVision Energy was its status as a certified benefit corporation, Marsden said, meaning it follows business practices designed to benefit employees, customers, and the community.
ReVision enthusiastically agreed to the project, as it already had a group of homeowners who had signed up to become members of a solar farm. One of the projects the company had been working on fell through, leaving the homeowners without a farm, according to James Manzer, a system designer for ReVision.
After receiving approval from the members of the Midcoast Friends Meeting, the Midcoast Friends Community Solar Farm moved forward. ReVision installed the farm in May.
Sunday’s event celebrated the completion of the installation, but the farm will not be up and running until later this month, Manzer said.
The Friends plan to hold an event in the future with the members of the solar farm, Manzer said.
The Midcoast Friends Meeting is not one of the members of the solar farm, but it strongly believes in supporting sustainability and clean energy, member Sue Rockwood said.
“We’re doing this out of the belief it is the right thing to do,” Rockwood said.