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Utility company reaches historic achievement in clean energy production: 'Something that has not … been done before in many areas'

"It's not as simple as plug and play."

"It’s not as simple as plug and play."

Photo Credit: iStock

The state of Maine, which has set the aggressive goal of harnessing 80% of its energy from renewable sources by 2030, is already showing signs of success.

As reported by WAGM News, the Fort Kent area, which is home to more than 11,000 customers, met and even exceeded 100% of its energy needs with local solar power over several days in early May — with the regional utility claiming this occurred over early afternoon hours. 

"That takes a lot of technological expertise, it takes a good deal of planning, and that's something that has not frankly been done before in many areas of the country, and in fact the world," Judy Long, senior communications manager for Versant Power, the region's main transmission and distribution utility, shared in the WAGM News report. 

It's quite a milestone, especially considering that solar only accounts for around 10% of the state's 109-megawatt capacity, with most of it derived from wind and hydropower, per the Portland Press Herald

Fort Kent is unique in the area since it's connected to Canada's New Brunswick Power Corp. instead of the New England electricity grid. Versant told the Press Herald that it's worked to connect more than 140 megawatts of solar energy to its local grid since 2020. It continues to support projects that will add 382 megawatts of renewable power to the region, which should exceed total demand in northern and eastern Maine. 

This all ties in with reports by the International Energy Agency that have shown a massive uptick in renewables globally during 2023. Using the abundant power of the sun instead of dirty fuel will reduce overall planet-warming pollution and foster more investments in green energy. 

Similar reports about solar generation meeting demand have come in from France and California recently, so it's not an anomaly. The expansion of solar panels will only serve to reduce prices for consumers, as well.  

"In northern Maine, we've made a really, really good start, and we know that there will be more, but it's not as simple as plug and play. Solar energy takes technical expertise and planning to integrate into the grid," Long explained to WAGM.  

Bob Cleaves of Dirigo Power, which supplies Versant, offered his take to the Herald, saying, "I think it's a great day for the state of Maine to generate its own electricity and not have to go out of state."

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