A Cooperative Answer to Community Energy Needs
Panels coming in 2024!
CEBE is building a community solar cooperative that dramatically reduces energy costs for western Maine households while keeping more energy dollars in our communities. It fosters consumer ownership of energy production, especially for LMI households, via multiple small solar projects distributed across the community. These “solar gardens” will utilize state-of-the-art, dual axis solar tracker technology and will occupy an acre or two of land, while generating enough power for around 40-50 homes. These smaller scale installations will benefit from expedited grid interconnection and provide landowners with income and flexibility to integrate agricultural enterprises such as grazing, vegetable production, or pollinator habitat in an “agrivoltaic” system. Distributed across the region, these solar arrays will also become increasingly valuable to regional energy resilience.
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Developed with technical assistance from the Cooperative Development Institute (CDI) and a volunteer steering committee, this consumer-owned cooperative will make affordable renewable energy accessible to anyone with a CMP bill, create good jobs, and help Maine and the world meet its greenhouse gas reduction targets. Collective ownership of the means of energy production will mean democratic control of the cooperative and stable electricity costs for members.
CEBE recently won a $100,000 “Energizing Rural Communities” Prize for this work from the U.S. Department of Energy, which we are deploying to push this project forward. We are also in a small group (9%) of pre-applicants invited to apply for another federal grant which could fund our first five projects. An initial site is identified for our first array which is due to be online by the 2024 summer solstice. With our cooperative bylaws finalized, we expect to incorporate the cooperative business and transfer the project to cooperative ownership in 2024.
Please contact CEBE staff if you are interested in supporting this project as a tax equity investor, joining our steering committee, hosting a future site, becoming a member/owner subscriber, or by simply staying informed!
Municipal Community Solar
From planning in 2019 through the project coming online in 2023, CEBE supported developer UGE and the Town of Norway to collaborate on building a community solar farm on Norway's capped landfill. CEBE assisted in subscribing local businesses to the farm. We celebrated this project's completion in June 2023 with the community.