Moscow officials are backing developers of a solar power project in their bid to provide energy to Massachusetts.

The Moscow Board of Selectmen has sent a letter to Massachusetts energy officials supporting affiliates of NextEra Energy Inc. in their bid to provide clean solar power to that state as part of the Massachusetts Clean Energy request for proposals.

The Wintergreen Solar Project is proposed for the site of the former Over The Horizon Backscatter Radar Station in Moscow and part of Caratunk, which first was mothballed in 1997, then finally dismantled in 2009.

Cianbro Corp., of Pittsfield, and two investors from Massachusetts bought land and buildings owned for decades by the federal government in April 2012 and planned to develop energy-generating plants on the site as well as to attract other businesses.

Plans included possible hydro power assets or wind turbines.

Cianbro CEO Peter Vigue said in a telephone interview in 2012 that the purchase of the site, which includes about 1,300 acres and 30,000 square feet of “high quality” building space built by the federal government in the 1970s, is a joint venture among the three parties.


“We’re looking at not just wind power, but other sources of energy that would be developed on site,” he said at the time.

The Wintergreen project is among bids received by New England Clean Energy, part of a group of agencies and electric utilities in Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island that issued a request for proposals for energy projects last November to help them meet their clean-energy goals and fight climate change.

Cianbro officials did not respond immediately Thursday to a request for comment.

The Moscow letter, signed by all three town selectmen — Donald Beane, Michael Staples and Elvin Hawes — says the proposed solar facility would have economic and environmental benefits and comes at a time of “significant challenges” related to reliable and affordable sources of energy.

“The solar project will be one of the largest of its kind in New England and will contribute to economic development through construction and operations jobs in the area as well as tax benefits without requiring additional local government resources,” the selectmen wrote.

Solar power would help lower energy costs by bringing more affordable power onto the existing grid, while bringing construction jobs and increasing the need for local goods and services, such as food, fuel, lodging and contractor opportunities, the selectmen say in the letter.


Environmental pluses could include lower carbon emissions in the region while maintaining recreational opportunities in the immediate area, which has good access roads and wide-open spaces, they say.

The proposed solar project in Moscow would join what so far is the state’s largest solar energy farm in Madison and another Cianbro-owned 41,000-panel solar project site on U.S. Route 2 in Pittsfield. Once fully operational, the Pittsfield project would surpass the size of the 26,000-panel farm at the Madison Business Gateway, which occupies about 22 acres.

It also would join plans for Waterville’s capped landfill and similar plans for Fairfield’s unused landfill in the race to provide clean solar power. NextEra Energy said a planned Farmington solar farm will be similar to the one the company is proposing for Fairfield. Colby College, in Waterville, expects to have its 1.8-megawatt project consisting of 5,300 panels operational soon.

Thomas College in Waterville partnered with ReVision Energy in 2012 to install 700 solar panels on the roof of the Alfond Athletic Center. Unity College also partnered with ReVision, signing a power purchasing agreement to place a 144-panel solar array on the roofs of the Quimby Library and the Thomashow Learning Laboratory.

Bowdoin College has a 1.2-megawatt solar power complex in Brunswick.

A Yarmouth company continues to move ahead with plans to build a 50-megawatt solar farm at the Sanford municipal airport. The Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association launched its new array in the spring at the Common Ground Education Center on Crosby Brook Road in Unity, where more than 300 panels are spread out over five barn roofs.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367


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