Local landowner, energy firm propose 700-acre solar project

WATERVILLE, Maine (AP) — Local landowners are proposing a 700-acre solar energy project in Benton, Clinton and Unity Township in partnership with a renewable energy company.

Bessey Development Company, which owns the land, and Longroad Energy, based in Boston, want to invest $190 million in the project that would install solar panels on tracts that cross the three communities.

Both the Maine Public Utilities Commission and Department of Environment must approve the plan before it moves forward.

The partnership to build the Three Corners Solar project started in 2017, and recently bid to supply energy to Central Maine Power, the Morning Sentinel reported.

Matt Kearns, chief development officer for Longroad Energy, said the project site was located 6 miles from a substation in Benton, where it would connect with the electric grid.

He said construction would generate 125 jobs, and that Three Corners Solar has agreed to a $10,000 a year partnership with nearby Unity College for 10 years if the project is approved. Longroad has also pledged donations to community groups and a land trust that oversees community managed lands in the area.

In September, the Maine Department of Agriculture approved a request from Three Corners Solar to rezone the land for the development.