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January 4, 2019

Maine Mall 2,340-panel solar array poised to go online

A 2,340-panel solar array on the roof of the Maine Mall, in South Portland, will go online soon. (Courtesy / City of South Portland)

The Maine Mall is expected to save thousands of kilowatt hours in energy costs this year when a 2,340-panel solar array goes online.

The array has been installed and is awaiting installation of a foot pad walkway system before it powers up, South Portland Economic Development Director William Mann said.

The move is part of a nationwide sustainability plan that mall owners Brookfield Properties Retail Inc. inherited from GGP Inc. when it acquired the national retail property firm last year. Brookfield Properties is part of Brookfield Asset Management, and Mainers may be familiar with the company's dam holdings in the state.

The 795.6 kilowatt hour DC system at the mall has an annual planned production of 986,200 kilowatt hours.

The array, which was installed by Strata Solar, of North Carolina, also required replacing 165,000 square feet of roof at the mall, where the first building, Jordan Marsh, was constructed in 1969 and much of the rest was built in the early 1970s.

Tecta America New England did the roof work and said on its website that much of the roof was "quite old" and had to be replaced before Strata Solar could install the panels.

Tecta's Portland team, along with Tecta workers from other New England states, installed a Sarnafil Rhinobond induction welded roofing system, which made the roof watertight. The work was finished in July and won the company an Excellence in Construction Merit Award from Massachusetts Associated Builders and Contractors in November.

"The solar array was scheduled to be installed immediately after the roof work was completed, so it was crucial that these multiple penetrations were done correctly and would be able to last over the three decades the solar array will be active," the contracting association said in a news release.

Sustainability focus

Courtesy / City of South Portland
Courtesy / City of South Portland
The solar array at the Maine Mall was installed by Strata Solar after roof replacement by Tecna America New England.

Brookfield Properties owns 162 malls in 42 states. GGP, the former owner of many of those malls, had installed solar in 44 properties by the end of 2017, which were projected to generate more than 66.5 million kilowatt hours of electricity annually, the company's sustainability report said.

"This is enough electricity to power all the homes in Vail, Colo., for one year and is equivalent to the amount of power generated by burning approximately 27,100 tons of coal," it said.

The Maine Mall was one of 15 properties the company targeted for on-site solar generation in 2018, as a result of the extension of the federal Renewable Energy Incentive Tax Credit and a decrease in the price of solar-generation equipment, the report said.

"Once these projects are complete, GGP will have a total of 66.5 MW of solar capacity that is projected to generate 88.0 million kWh of electricity annually," the report said. "The electricity generated by GGP's solar arrays is projected to produce enough energy to power more than 9,800 homes per year. In total, it will be producing more than 10% of its electricity needs via on-site solar generation."

A Brookfield spokesperson said Friday that the company also plans to issue a sustainability report.

The Maine Mall installation is one of several recent solar installations in South Portland, Mann said.

Another recent one is at InterMed, 50 Foden Road, where a 260-panel array was recently completed.

Mann said the city, which has the state's largest municipal solar array, is seeing more solar projects, both commercial and residents.

"We are pleased, given our efforts to encourage greater sustainability and clean energy sourcing," he said.

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