A commercial site plan application for a four-megawatt solar farm to be located in a field on Searsmont Road, about a quarter-mile from Lincolnville Center, was reviewed and deemed to be complete July 29 by the Planning Board.

The final step in the process is a public hearing and determination on approval by the Planning Board Wednesday, Aug. 12. Planning Board meetings are held remotely using Zoom video conferencing and broadcast on YouTube. Members of the public can submit written comments and also speak during the public hearings, using Zoom.

SunRaise Investments, a New Hampshire company with solar installations in that state, Massachusetts and California, is working on establishing projects in Maine, according to Pat Jackson, senior vice president of development. Jackson joined the July 29 Planning Board meeting remotely, along with Atlantic Environmental LLC owner Tim Forrester and Lisa Vickers, vice president.

The system contains 13,500 panels, with 20 panels set on each rack. The installation is attached to the ground through a screw auger system. It is located on 20 acres of an 88-acre parcel about 800 feet off Searsmont Road. The area is primarily a field. There will be some tree-clearing in a forested area. The installation will be surrounded by a fence and accessed by a new road and gated entrance. The project contains no lighting or signs.

The site application was deemed complete by the Planning Board, with a contingency for a pending stormwater permit by rule from the Department of Environmental Protection. It also requires Army Corps of Engineers permitting, as there is a small wetland across the beginning of the field where the site is located.

The decision to classify the solar farm as a major project at a June 24 pre-application meeting stemmed from the amount of impervious surface, according to Code Officer Frank Terrio. The amount of impervious surface, based on environmental requirements, totals 42,000 square feet, Vickers said, and includes the road, pads and screw augurs.

Kevin Corbett, SunRaise vice president of construction and development, said the Lincolnville "project has a lot of the characteristics the state is looking for as part of the new incentive program."

"It's right next to the substation, so it's close to three-phase power, has minimal impact on natural resources and no impact to farmland or open space," he said.

"The company develops, constructs, owns and operates the projects," he said. "We're here for the long run."

Corbett explained how the power is sold, in response to a question from Terrio about whether Lincolnville has access to the power.

The program is set up to benefit off-takers, Corbett said, and those "can be a combination of residential, commercial, small business and municipalities." He said this is still to be determined. A month prior to construction, SunRaise will have discussions with the town and residents about the solar power being a benefit to them, which essentially means a reduction in energy costs, he said.