Solar energy projects bill passes into law | Local News

FILE — Governor Mills recently signed into law a joint proposal that would promote building solar energy projects on farmland that has been contaminated by PFAS.

“The need to really provide solutions for farms contaminated by the forever chemical PFAS is real. This is one potential tool in the toolbox that will get us there,” said Senator Stacy Brenner, one of the law’s sponsors.

The proposal combines Senator Brenner’s bill in promoting economic reuse of contaminated land with Senator Eloise Vitelli’s bill in advancing Maine’s clean energy goals.

“It just makes common sense. If you’re going to not grow crops on this land and we need to advance our energy goals, this is a perfect land application,” said Senator Brenner.

This piece of legislation has three goals: advancing Maine’s clean energy development, ensuring benefits to ratepayers and making use of PFAS-contaminated farmland.

Senator Brenner walked us through how this process would work.

“If the land has a level of contamination that’s deemed by the Department of Agriculture to be in a situation where the pivotal business doesn’t make financial sense or it’s too deeply contaminated for continued production, then that plot of land would be elevated in the procurement of the PUC [Public Utilities Commission] and the solar developer would be incentivized to use that property over the other one,” said Senator Brenner.

This is something Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Deputy Commissioner Nancy McBrady sees as a win-win for both sides.

“If that location works with an energy developer and is right for solar development, it would be seen as an income-generating option for that farm,” said McBrady.

McBrady admits its too early to know whether farmers will benefit from this, but says this offers other options for farmers.

“If there are going to be locations developed for renewable energy, it would be our preference it would be on contaminated land. I think that is going to be offered to its best and highest use,” said McBrady.

This law will go into effect 90 days after the Maine Legislature adjourns from its current session.

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