The Region MAINE Solar Energy A New Dawn for Maine Condominiums [by Jack Carr, P.E., RS, LEED-AP] There is some good solar power news for Maine's condominium and HOA communities. We have spoken in past articles of the unfortunate political restraints on the development of renewable energy sources in Maine by the prior Governor Paul LaPage administration. Things have changed with two new solar power pieces of legislation (LD 91 - "An act to Eliminate Gross Metering" and LD 1711 - "An Act to Promote Solar Energy Projects and Distributed Generation Resources in Maine"). With these recent bills signed by Governor Janet Mills, a new solar horizon will brighten the growth of Maine's solar power opportunities for the condominium world. One of the most cost effective methods of generating solar power electrical energy is by the use of large Community Solar Farms (CSFs). These CSFs are located either on-site or off-site with large arrays of solar panels. The power industry in Maine lobbied successfully to 52 CONDOMEDIA June 2020 restrain their growth by encouraging a bill to be passed in 2016 to drop 'net metering' for 'gross metering' to lower the investment return potential making solar arrays less favorable. LD 91 eliminated this encumbrance. This bill was shortly followed by LD 1711, removing the limit of only 10 meters per solar array and instead placing limits on the size of the array system with no limit on the number of meters. This is a game changer. With no restrictions on the number of subscribers and the size of the solar system increasing to 5 megawatts (MW), economies of scale can be reached, making it economically feasible for condominiums and HOAs to participate in a low-cost solar future. COMMUNITY SOLAR FARM OPTIONS So how will this all work? There are optional paths a community can take to join a CSF and thus a long and careful study of which option is right for your community is the key to success. Also some basic CSF facts should be well understood. One of the benefits of a CSF is it can be located elsewhere if the community does not have suitable land exposed to optimal sunlight. This opens the door to land-restricted city condominiums or suburban HOAs that do not want solar arrays visible in their backyard. The two options for a CSF are either: (1) Direct Ownership or (2) Subscriber Service. Keep in mind the actual electrical energy produced by the CSF does not go directly to the subscribers, but rather to Maine's electrical grid. It is the economic benefits that are transferred to the condominium unit owners, whether through direct ownership share allocation or subscriber electric rate reductions. Currently LD 1711 allows only the direct ownership option. Next year the subscriber service option will be available.