MaineHealth enables new solar power development through purchase agreements under state program

Sat, 07/04/2020 - 7:30am

Agreements with three developers of solar projects will reduce the system’s carbon footprint and save the not-for-profit healthcare provider money on its electric bill.

Portland, Maine – MaineHealth has reached agreements to purchase power from three developers of solar energy projects in Maine under a new state initiative aimed at encouraging the creation of additional renewable energy resources in the state.

The agreements commit MaineHealth to support 10 solar farms in Maine for the next 20 years. In turn, this enables the developers of those solar facilities to secure investment and financing for their projects. The agreements are part of a larger state effort enacted last year that is modeled after those of several other states in the Northeast. The initiative creates a system of credits for purchasing solar power that are funded through an assessment on electric utility bills.

Working with Competitive Energy Services, LLC, a Portland-based energy consulting firm, MaineHealth has reached agreements under the program with Borrego Solar Systems Inc., of San Diego, Calif.,
BlueWave Solar, Inc., of Boston, Mass., and Nexamp, Inc., of Boston, Mass.

“This program enables us to play a significant role in the development of solar energy in Maine, thereby reducing our region’s overall carbon footprint. Doing so is consistent with our organization’s vision of
‘working together, so our communities are the healthiest in America,” said Bill Caron, MaineHealth CEO.

Through its participation in the program, MaineHealth hopes to see half of its estimated annual power usage generated at the solar facilities it is supporting. These solar farms are expected to be brought on line over the next two years, and once they are fully operational, the state credit system will help reduce the health system’s overall electric utility costs. The savings could vary depending on energy market fluctuations and other factors, but at a minimum, MaineHealth expects to save at least $1 million annually on its electric power bill.

MaineHealth is a not-for-profit provider of health care with nine local health systems in Maine and Carroll County, N.H. The solar contracts will create power for use at the system’s Maine locations, and the savings generated will directly benefit the 1.1 million people in its service area by reducing the overall cost of delivering care.

“Not only does this program help reduce the impact of global warming and create cleaner air, but it also allows us to build on our commitment to provide excellent patient care at the lowest possible cost,” said
Caron. “Given these benefits, we felt it important to participate.”

The legislation enabling MaineHealth’s participation was approved last year during the regular session of the 129th Legislature and signed into law by Maine Governor Janet Mills.

“I commend MaineHealth on its investment in solar power, the result of which will not only protect our environment, but that will also save money and directly translate into lower health care costs for the people MaineHealth serves,” said Mills. “This partnership further exemplifies that embracing clean energy opportunities is a good move for our health, for our environment and for our economy.”

The solar program makes it possible for all electric utility customers to encourage solar energy development and share in electric utility bill credits. MaineHealth is participating in a part of the program aimed at large users of electricity. Several other large organizations in Maine, including many of its largest businesses and municipalities as well as educational institutions and health care providers, are also moving forward with plans to participate.

“We are proud to be contributing to a healthier environment for our communities and to do so in a way that is fiscally responsible,” said Caron.