March 3, 2023

Windham saves thousands on energy costs through solar arrays

By Ed Pierce

The Town of Windham’s use of solar arrays is starting to show impressive results, according to Windham Town Manager Barry Tibbetts.

Windham's solar array at the old landfill on Enterprise Drive
was completed in 2020 and has helped the town realize
significant energy savings for municipal buildings and
facilities. FILE PHOTO
In a memo issued to town councilors on Feb. 23, Tibbetts reported significant savings have been realized by the town’s two solar arrays. One of those solar arrays is situated on the roof of the East Windham Fire Station roof on Falmouth Road and the other is on the site of the old town landfill on Enterprise Drive.

According to Tibbetts, the 39.78 kilowatt array at the fire station was installed in 2013 and the town purchased the energy system in 2021. It generates enough photovoltaic power to offset electricity used at that facility and at the North Windham Fire Station as well.

“Since the 2021 purchase, the energy generated from the array has more than offset the electricity generation at both the East Windham and North Windham Fire Stations,” Tibbetts said. “The approximate savings for both stations in fiscal year 2022 was $3,245.41.”

He said that the second array is located on the capped landfill off Enterprise Drive in North Windham and it has a 504 kilowatt array that was installed in 2020. Under an agreement with Revision Energy, the town has a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) for the landfill array.

“The PPA allows the town to pay for electricity generated from the array each month at a fixed rate, rather than paying for power from the grid. This is completed through purchasing renewable energy credits, which are applied to our various accounts using the cascade method,” Tibbetts said. “Therefore, the credits will roll to the next account until fully expended. When the credit value was originally estimated, it was projected the credit value would start at 12.4 cents per kilowatt hour and grow at a rate of 2.5 percent each year. The credit value effectively increased by 50 percent each of the last two consecutive years, meaning the credit value has doubled (24 cents). Therefore, instead of the town saving about 1 penny per kilowatt hour, the town is now saving 12 cents per kilowatt hour.”

He said that for 2021, the cumulative savings for the North Windham solar array amounted to about $5,891.63 and the Town will be working with CMP (Central Maine Power) to add a third account to receive the access credits generated from the North Windham solar array.

Windham’s solar initiative was designed to eventually power all the town’s municipal buildings and drastically cut Windham’s overall electric bill with the savings applied somewhere else in the town’s budget in years to come while also helping to reduce the town’s carbon footprint.

The projected generation of 684,892 hours of clean solar electricity from the North Windham landfill alone is enough to offset more than 617,000 pounds of CO2 emissions.

Tibbetts said that the bottom line is solar power derived from the arrays is creating substantial savings for the town. “In 2022, the cumulative savings were approximately $50,244.84,” Tibbetts said. <

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