Solar Energy in Topsham

A summary of how a property owner can develop solar facilities within Topsham, and how our municipal solar saves money for taxpayers and benefits our local environment and our local economy,

Solar Farm

Solar Options for Residents and Businesses

Accessory-use solar facilities (back-yard trackers, roof-top residential and commercial panels, etc.) have been installed in Topsham for at least ten years.  Notable installations include the Target store at Topsham Fair Mall and the newly-opened Mt. Ararat High School (632 kW!)Morningstar Stone and Tile (156 kW) and PV and solar air heating facilities at Wicked Joe Coffee Roasters.

The development of principal-use solar farms (our code refers to these facilities as "Solar Energy Conversion Systems") was enabled by the approval of an ordinance amendment by the 2020 Town Meeting.  The ordinance amendment was facilitated by the Topsham Solar Advocates.  Since adoption, two projects have been permitted under the ordinance.


For Residents

Thinking about solar? Before you make any substantial investments consider taking some of these simple steps to compound your future return on investment.

Energy Audits - Find Energy Savings & Create A Baseline

  • Get an energy audit with an energy auditor to identify efficiency upgrades with the greatest payback. You may qualify for a rebate on the audit with air sealing and additional rebates on other weatherization projects.

Air Sealing & Insulation - Tighten Up & Raise Your R-Values

  • During the audit, air leaks which reduce the efficiency of your insulation will be identified. If insulation is called for, take this next step to start saving money on heating and cooling costs. Those savings can be applied to future energy upgrades. 

Reduce Your Energy Use - Use Energy-Saving Appliances

  • Start small by switching to LED lights and utilize power strips to cut off power to multiple devices when not in use. Then consider upgrading to more efficient Energy Star® appliances. Check out for rebates on appliances.

Take The Long View - Consider Future Electricity Needs

  • Could upgrading to an electric cook stove, clothes dryer, water heater, heat pump, or electric car be in the cards? Review your current heating and electric bills as well as anticipated future needs with your solar installer to determine the best array sizing. It is more cost-effective to scale up a PV system for near future demands than to add panels to an existing array. 

Consider Your Solar Options

  • Solar at your property:

  • Offsite options:

    • If you rent or if a solar installation is not advantageous on your property consider offsetting your use by purchasing Maine-based renewable energy credits for a modest monthly charge through; or 

    • Consider signing up for one of the numerous new community solar programs. See the Community Solar section below for more info. 

For Businesses

Energy needs can be a major expense to a businesses’ bottom line. Eliminating or upgrading inefficient equipment and investing in renewable energy resources can cut costs and help businesses be more profitable. This webpage shares technical and financial resources and highlights energy efficiency and renewable energy opportunities that may help keep businesses productive, reduce costs, and lessen environmental impacts. 


Loans, Grants, and Incentives

  • Commercial and Industrial (C&I) Prescriptive Incentive Program offers businesses and manufacturers specific prescriptive measures for:

    • Heating Systems: high-efficiency boilers, variable refrigerant flow systems, high-performance heat pumps, circulator pumps, and programmable thermostats.

    • Lighting Solutions: replacing interior and exterior lighting and controls, and discounts on LEDs.

    • Cooling Solutions: heat pumps and refrigerant flow systems.

  • Commercial and Industrial (C&I) Custom Program offers free scoping audits for those eligible to develop a qualified project. It leverages private investment for projects costing between $10,000 - $1 million, or up to 50% of project costs.

    • Technical assistance for:

      • Distributed Energy Systems, which are systems behind the meter that reduce the consumption of grid-supplied electricity. These projects can include reciprocating engines, steam turbines, and anaerobic digesters.

      • Thermal projects that reduce heating fuel consumption may include pipe insulation, heat recovery, condensate recovery, process steam reduction, HVAC controls and optimizations, heat exchangers, and recover boilers.

      • Electrical projects that reduce electrical consumption and can include projects like compressed air systems and components, heat recovery, variable frequency drives, HVAC controls and optimization, chillers and refrigeration upgrades.

Community Solar

With recent legislation, Community Solar has become a reality for any Mainer with an electric account. Currently there are a growing number of companies providing power sourced from projects from 5 to 20 acres in size. To put this into scale a 20 acre solar farm could serve as many as 600 households.


There are two types of programs that have emerged: Subscription/Power Contract and Ownership:

  Subscription/Power Contract Ownership in Solar Farm
Eligibility All Mainers All Mainers
Investment None Varies, based on share cost in large array
Tax Credit None 26% (2021)
Pricing 10-15% below Standard Offer Apx $0.10/kWH (6/2021)
Stability Price Fluctuates with Market Fixed Price (25 year life of system)


Subscription/Power Contract

When selecting the provider to work with, consider the following:

  • Where is the solar farm located? There are many new arrays being built in Maine.

  • Providers may be either the builder and owner of the array or brokers who market for several providers.

  • When will the farm begin making power? Typically the providers want to get a critical mass of customers before launching the facility. Lead times can vary anywhere from several weeks to 1 year or more. 

  • Find out how they calculate the share you’ll commit to. They should look at the total power you consumed over a 1 year period. Make sure you don’t commit to more power than you used over the last year or plan to consume in the future year. Your credits will not carry over to the next year.

  • Power production will appear as credits on your CMP bill and can offset all but the portion of the bill for delivery of the first 50 kW of power. So while the bill will never go to zero, nearly all of the delivery and supply of electricity can be offset.

  • You will have a separate bill to the Solar Provider that will be calculated on the Maine Standard Offer price minus 10%. The Standard offer price varies with supply and demand and can fluctuate quite a bit from season to season.

  • What becomes of the renewable energy credits from the system? Are they sold on the market to reduce costs for you? Or are they available to you? If they are not available to you, understand that you are not able to claim to be consuming solar power, but you will still be saving money on your bills.

More information about community solar options is available at the Office of the Public Advocate


Signing up is easy. You will need your CMP account number, a copy of your most recent electric bill, and your bank account and routing number. Typically after you set up your account, they will ask you to enter your bank account information for automatic payment each month. It is also easy to exit your contract. There is no obligation to stay in the program. Check with your provider’s rules, but be prepared for the termination to take one or two billing cycles.

Some Subscription Solar Options:

Ownership in Solar Farm

The original model of community solar began with a group of up to nine accounts who contracted with a solar developer to build a farm with enough capacity (maybe 75-100 kW) for the owner/investors. The scope of this program was expanded with the recent legislation to unlimited users and 5,000 kW maximum size.

The advantage to this is that the cost to build a solar farm may be lower than a residential installation  due to the economy of scale. 

  • Owner/Investors purchase a share in the large solar array. This is based on your past electric consumption and projection of future needs. The investment is literally a commitment to pay for a portion of the solar array, say 45 panels totalling 16.75 kW.

  • For 2021 the Solar Tax Credit remains at 26% and is taken by the owner/investor.

  • The cost of power is calculated by the builder/developer and becomes part of the contract.

  • Power cost can be significantly lower than standard offer and depends on the array.

  • Operation and maintenance is performed by the builder/developer and is included in the contract. 

Community Solar Ownership Options:

Currently the go to company for this is Revision Energy. Check in with any solar company to see if they have a program in the works.

Topsham Municipal Solar

In December of 2020 we partnered with Liberty, ME-based ReVision Energy in an off-site 3.9 megawatt grid-tied solar electric system that serves Topsham and four other Maine towns (Rangeley, Dover-Foxcroft, Rockland, & Vassalboro). Solar production from the array will offset our electric bill at no upfront cost through Net Energy Billing Credits, and contribute renewable energy to the grid.  Our project was one of the first two in the state!

When the sun is shining, our 17% share (1,763 solar panels!) produces clean, local electricity that is fed back to the grid where it benefits our communities, while we enjoy a discounted electricity rate locked in for decades. Each year, the array will generate roughly 814,964 kilowatt-hours of electricity for our town, offsetting the equivalent of over 1.5 million miles driven in a gas-powered car. Overall, the entire array will generate more than 4.8 megawatt-hours per year, keeping 4.7 million pounds of carbon pollution out of the atmosphere. To see the total production from the solar array, follow this link

In short, this project:

  • Reduces the Town's annual costs for electricity, saving taxpayer's money
  • Reduces the Town's contribution towards greenhouse gas emissions
  • Shifts the source of energy for the Town from fossil fuels to a renewable source
  • Sources energy from Maine--keeping our energy economy local and dollar circulating in our state