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Solar energy


Jessica Letellier Biddeford, ME

I am looking to turn my land purchase into a solar field and was wondering the best route. Do I have to get permission from neighboring landowners to see if they want solar or do I just shoot straight with the power companies?

29 August 2016 4 replies Small Business



Don Barkman Oak Ridge, TN



John Green Cary, NC

After further research, here is an FAQ from my power provider .

Duke buys back from residential home owners excess electricity at the rate on one cent per kwh for off-peak buy back and two cents per kwh for peak buy back.


James Bishop Columbus, OH

I would not think that Maine was where you build a solar field but I am assuming you did the research. I would think a wind farm would be more effective there, but that is not my expertise. I also assume you have acres and this is not residential land we are referring to. So to the simple question you posed, you need to start with what zoning applies to the land, is a solar farm a permissible use (Note that "solar farm" will not be written into any restrictions, but you are referencing commercial use). If the land is incorporated go to the city/town start there, otherwise find the law that governs your land.

As a practical note, if you are not on the grid for transmission out, don't expect anyone to put it in for you.


John Green Cary, NC

Is the land governed by home owners association ? If so, what do the by laws state ? What is the land zoned for ? In that zoning criteria, are there any land-use restrictions ?

Solar works best when you are the primary consumer and the electric company buys the excess of what you don't use. The retail price for residential electricity is around twelve cents per kilowatt hour (one thousand watts consumed in one hour). The wholesale price which the power company pays you for your excess can be as low as 1.9 cents per kw (which is lower than your cost to produce it; most solar farms have a cost of around three cents per kw).

To produce energy for one residential home, you need about 15 or 20 solar panels. Each panel measures three feet by eight feet. Then you need to back that generation up with battery and regulators. How many solar panels will you fit on your land ? The panels will last about six or seven years, then need replacement. Batteries last about three years. Thats where your 3 cents per kw generated cost comes in. If you can only sell back your excess electricity at 1.9 cents per kw, you loose 1.1 cents for every kw you produce.

The average home consumes about 1,000 kilowatt hours per month (12,000 kw hours per year). Some appliances cannot be run totally on solar, for example air conditioners. refrigerators, and water heaters. These appliances rely on peak demand to be supplied by an external source, such as commercial power.

You also need to factor in enough storage capacity to overcome several days of cloudy or stormy weather. You need to have enough battery backup to last until the next sunshiney day. Batteries are expensive and need to be housed in a shed away from weather concerns. There have been some experiments with used hybrid electric vehicle ones, but they have even shorter life span.

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