Souther Farm is the solar project first in Maine to provide most (96%) of its solar energy to public schools in the state. The 14,040-panel array is expected to produce roughly 6,478,200 kilowatt hours of clean energy annually, offsetting more than 6,348,000 pounds of carbon pollution each year. ReVision Energy partnered with Aligned Climate Capital, an investment firm focused exclusively on clean solar energy and other sustainable assets, to bring the project to Western Maine.
Mt. Blue Regional School District (RSU9), Spruce Mountain School District (RSU73), Camden Rockport School District (MSAD28), Camden Hills Regional High School (Five Town CSD), and Hope Elementary School (Union 69) have all taken steps to reduce their carbon footprint by participating as ‘off-takers’ from the array under what is called a power purchase agreement (PPA.)
Ninety-six percent of the clean energy produced by the array will go to toward offsetting the schools’ energy needs, with the remaining four percent going to Farmington Water District. Solar power generated by the array will offset the electric bills of the off-takers through Maine’s Net Energy Billing program.
“We could not be more excited or proud to be participating in this cutting-edge solution to preserving farmland, reducing greenhouse gases, and saving money for our local taxpayers. It is so important for our students to learn in a place that demonstrates collaboration, sustainability leadership, and sound financial decision-making. Our participation in this clean energy project reflects the very values we are trying to impart. It is one of many things our district has done to move toward a reduced carbon footprint.” Shared Maria Libby, Superintendent of the Five Town CSD and MSAD 28 school districts.
The landowners, Evelyn Norton and Priscilla Swartzlander, were born in the farmhouse that still stands on the property. Their father Harold Souther, 98, was also born in the family’s generational home and still lives there. Souther ran the dairy and poultry farm for years, taking over operations from his father.
The land is now leased to a neighbor and a cousin for pastureland, raising livestock, and hay production. In the fall pumpkins, squash, and cornstalk are sold. “We think it’s a showpiece for incorporating solar while continuing farming,” says Norton. Her father wanted to ensure the farm will stay in the family once he is gone and saw the solar farm as a way to ensure this. The money from the leased land will allow his family to keep the property.
“This project shows that smart clean energy investments can benefit local communities,” said Peter Davidson, CEO of Aligned Climate Capital. “The schools are saving money by going solar, the family farm has more income, and we are all helping solve climate change.”
Watch the coverage of our Souther Farm project on NBC: Why This 98-Year-Old Farmer Said Making His Land a Solar Farm Was an Easy Decision – NBC Boston
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