NextEra: Four former Ranger Solar projects will be operating by end of 2019
September 25, 2017
BY MAUREEN MILLIKEN
NextEra Energy Inc. (NYSE: NEE) is moving forward on four large solar projects in Maine that are expected to be commercially active by 2019. The company acquired Yarmouth-based Ranger Solar’s portfolio earlier this year.
The Florida-based company, which says it’s the largest wind and solar power company in the world, is developing solar projects in Farmington, Sanford, Fairfield and Clinton for completion in the next two years.
Ranger Solar develops solar and wind projects, working with communities on locations and moving them forward, while NextEra is a “developer, owner and operator of power generation facilities that acquired Ranger’s project pipeline,” said NextEra spokesman Steven Stengel.
Also included in the acquisition was the 100-megawatt project at the former Loring Air Force Base in Limestone. At the time the Limestone project was announced last October, it was billed as the biggest in New England and is expected to bring 300 construction jobs to Aroostook County while it is being built.
Stengel said Friday that the Limestone project, while a priority, is not as far along as the other four.
All of the projects were initially developed by Ranger Solar. Along with nine other Ranger Solar projects in New England, they were acquired by NextEra in late spring, when it bought Ranger’s “project pipeline,” Stengel said.
The Farmington project, on 600 acres of farmland on U.S. Route 2 and could generate up to 75 megawatts of energy, is still in the permitting progress. Company representatives plan to meet with the town’s selectmen Tuesday, and hold more public hearings as plans take shape.
The Sanford project, at the Sanford Seacoast Regional Airport, will produce 50 megawatts of energy. Construction is expected to start on the project late this year or early next year.
The two others, on U.S. Route 201 in Fairfield, just south of Skowhegan, and on Winslow Road in Clinton, are planned for 20 megawatts, which could power up to 7,000 homes each. The energy has already been sold to a Connecticut company, officials have said. Those projects are expected to create 185 construction jobs.
NextEra: A global player
Stengel said Sanford and the three central Maine projects are expected to be in commercial operation by the end of 2019.
The Sanford project is on land leased from the city. It is expected to provide enough electricity to power up to 20,000 homes, the company said last year. The first phase, slated to begin by the end of this year, will provide between $60 million and $80 million of new taxable property, Mainebiz reported last year.
The project will create approximately 94 construction jobs and up 10 full-time positions, said Aaron Svedlow last fall when he was director of environmental permitting for Ranger. He is now a Yarmouth-based solar development project direct with NextEra.
NextEra also owns and operates Wyman Station on Cousins Island in Yarmouth, as well as the Cape Station in South Portland, on Portland Harbor, both oil-burning plants. The company also owns the Seabrook nuclear power plant in New Hampshire.
While it has 32 operating solar power facilities in nine states, as well as Spain and Ontario, the five that are in the planning process are its first in Maine. The company also has more than 100 wind-generating plants across the country, but none in Maine.
It at one time owned 19 hydro-electric generating dams in Maine, but sold them to Brookfield in 2013.