In case you’ve pushed by Augusta on I-95 these days, you might have observed the work the Maine Division of Transportation is doing to put in photo voltaic arrays inside the interstate rights-of-way at exits 109 and 112.
State-owned land inside these freeway exchanges has sat vacant for the reason that creation of the interstate system within the Fifties. It can’t be used for agriculture, animal housing, or development. Maine, nonetheless, can reap important environmental and monetary advantages by utilizing this unused state land to generate clear vitality.
As soon as these photo voltaic installations are full, the panels will ship low-cost renewable vitality to the grid to energy state workplace buildings all through the Augusta space. We are able to say that the Capitol Road and AMHI-East campuses – which signify the core of the Augusta state authorities buildings – can be powered by photo voltaic.
The ranges will even ship the message that Maine is main by instance: considering creatively about methods to cut back the impression of vitality use on our local weather and our open areas, whereas additionally saving cash on taxpayers.
The photo voltaic arrays inside the I-95 proper of approach will generate roughly 3.2 MW AC of photo voltaic vitality — sufficient to energy greater than 850 houses — and are estimated to cut back state carbon emissions by the equal of three.1 million kilos. of greenhouse gases. These native renewable vitality sources on I-95 will scale back greenhouse fuel emissions and scale back the state’s electrical energy prices by about $3.3 million over the following 20 years.
Moreover, the fee to the State of Maine is nominal. The venture developer — Cenergy — covers the price of improvement, development, operation, and upkeep. The developer additionally pays land lease from the state for the following 20 years. Briefly, it is a monetary win for our state and its taxpayers.
The event of the interstate change is totally in keeping with Maine Audubon’s established ideas of inserting photo voltaic improvement with minimal impression on wildlife habitat and different pure assets.
By finding the array of interchanges, MaineDOT makes use of degraded land that would in any other case be used for another objective; is the avoidance of delicate wildlife habitats and high-value pure assets resembling agricultural lands and huge, intact forest landscapes; and never compromise the wildlife corridors that species have to thrive as they transfer throughout the panorama.
MaineDOT will even plant pollinator-friendly plant species across the panels; many of those plant species are native to Maine. When these crops are totally grown within the first two years, the positioning will showcase Maine’s pure magnificence with crops and flowers helpful to bees, butterflies, and different bugs.
The US Division of Transportation encourages such improvement of interstate rights-of-way. Related tasks are already in place in Massachusetts, Maryland, Georgia, Florida, and Oregon.
By some estimates, the decrease 48 states have greater than 52,000 acres of vacant land alongside interstate exit roads appropriate for photo voltaic vitality improvement. Putting photo voltaic panels on these exits can generate as much as 36 terawatt-hours (TWh) a 12 months – that is sufficient to energy roughly 4.5 million houses. The worth of this roadside photo voltaic vitality is estimated at $4 billion per 12 months.
Maine is proud to guide by instance: utilizing unused land to generate clear vitality, supporting farmers by planting pollinator-friendly plant species, and saving taxpayers cash with out depleting probably the most beneficial pure assets.
Bruce Van Observe is the commissioner of the Maine Division of Transportation. Eliza Donoghue is director of advocacy and workers legal professional at Maine Audubon.
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