The Friends of Seguin Island plan to install solar panels at the historic site to replace an electrical cable that was severely damaged. Photo courtesy Friends of Seguin Island Light Station

PHIPPSBURG — Now that the 2019 tourism season has come to a close at Seguin Island, the nonprofit that owns the island is looking to raise money to install solar power next year.

The Friends of Seguin Island will hold its annual FallFest on from 6-8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 3. to raise money for the solar conversion.

According to Cyndy Carney, executive director of Friends of Seguin Island Light Station, the nonprofit needs to raise $100,000 to switch to solar power in time for next year’s tourism season. Seguin is open to the public from Memorial Day to Indigenous Peoples’ Day and sees more than 2,500 tourists per year.

The nonprofit hopes to use Assured Solar Energy in Yarmouth, but a contract has not yet been drafted.

In May, the Coast Guard cut power to Seguin after the 2.5-mile underwater cable that supplied electricity to the island since the 1950s was damaged. The Coast Guard plans to install solar panels to run the lighthouse beacon at night but didn’t have plans to supply enough electricity to restore power to buildings on the island.

Rob Taisey, co-founder and president of Assured Solar Energy, said he believes solar power will be a more reliable resource for the island.

“(Solar power) becomes a much more sustainable way to get your energy,” said Taisey. “Once you have the system in place, it gets delivered for free by the sun … it’s a resource that keeps coming.”

While the initial installation of the solar infrastructure can be pricy, the solar panels are designed to last for 25 years, according to Taisey.

Taisey said the generator is “still a piece of the puzzle because it serves as a backup plan.” The system will also need a battery pack to store excess energy for use during cloudy stretches.

The lighthouse is the second oldest in Maine, commissioned by George Washington in 1795. Sitting 180 feet above sea level, the current tower is the third that has stood on the island. Built in 1857, it features a First Order Fresnel Lens crafted by Henry Lapaute of Paris, the only one in Maine, according to Carney.

The lens, first devised by Augustin Fresne, is comprised of 282 individual prisms and can cast a beam of light that can be seen from more than 20 miles away. The original lamp burned about 2 gallons of oil per hour but was converted to electricity in the mid-1950s.

The lighthouse was decommissioned in 1985 and runs automatically. No Coast Guard personnel are stationed on the island. Friends of Seguin Island Light Station runs tours, maintains trails and runs the keeper’s house, museum and gift shop. 

The FallFest fundraiser will feature a buffet dinner, comedian performance and auction. Tickets are $35 and can be purchased by contacting Cyndy Carney at (207) 443-4808 or [email protected].

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