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January 18, 2018

Cianbro completes New England's largest solar array

Courtesy / Cianbro Corp.
Courtesy / Cianbro Corp.
An aerial view of Cianbro Corp.'s 40,300 solar panels erected on 57 acres of a 115-acre parcel owned by the company off Route 2 in Pittsfield. The solar energy facility is the largest solar energy facility in Maine.

By the numbers

57-Acre solar array on a 115-acre parcel

Started construction: July 24, 2017

Commercially energized and connected to the grid: Dec. 23, 2017

Power: 9.9 megawatts AC, 13.86 megawatts DC

Enough electricity to power 6,500 homes at peak output

40,300 Tier 1 solar panels

Cianbro Corp. has completed the construction and commissioning of the largest solar energy facility in Maine and within the jurisdiction of ISO New England, which keeps electricity flowing across the six-state New England region.

The company's Pittsfield Solar Project consists of 40,300 solar panels erected on 57 acres of a 115-acre parcel owned by Cianbro off Route 2 in Pittsfield. The one-by-two-meter panels are set at a tilt of 35 degrees for optimal exposure to the sun. The solar panels absorb the sun's energy and converts it into Direct Current (DC) electricity.

The energy is converted to alternating current electricity (AC) and sent to the ISO New England grid, where it is sold under a 20-year contract with Central Maine Power Co.

The Pittsfield Solar Project has the capacity to send up to 9.9 megawatts of AC electricity to the grid every hour during ideal conditions, enough to supply 6,500 homes at peak generation.

"It's good, clean energy," said Cianbro's facilities manager, Tom Ruksznis, who spearheaded the development of the solar project. "We converted a cornfield, a little strip of woods and a hay field and turned it into an energy-producing facility. It's quiet, it's clean and it will deliver over 20 years of low maintenance electricity."

Ruksznis also pointed out that the facility contributes to the Pittsfield tax base, and helped the local economy in 2017 with more than 100 construction workers who built the solar array.

Cianbro submitted its application for the solar facility to the Maine Public Utilities Commission in the autumn of 2015 under the PUC's Community Based Renewables Energy Program. Following the award, Cianbro crews broke ground for the facility in late July 2017. The project went online, producing energy commercially, on Dec. 23.

Cianbro is Maine's largest construction company, with 4,000 employees and annual revenue of $755 million, according to the Mainebiz Book of Lists.

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