Thanks to policies passed in 2019, Maine is on the cusp of a new era of solar power development. From rooftop arrays that power individual households and businesses, to grid-scale projects that provide power to customers across the electricity grid, Maine is realizing solar’s many benefits: good jobs, lower energy costs, and clean energy.
With these tremendous opportunities comes potential conflict with Maine’s wildlife and natural resources. Like any new land use or development, if solar is not thoughtfully sited and operated, it could displace wildlife habitat and otherwise unduly impact Maine’s natural resources.
In partnership with solar developers, municipal planners, and environmental and agricultural organizations, Maine Audubon has created a suite of resources to guide individuals, municipalities, and decision-makers toward realizing the benefits of solar, while siting projects with wildlife and habitat in mind.
SOLAR SITING TOOLKIT
- Best Practices for Low Impact Solar Siting, Design, and Maintenance — Avoiding and Minimizing Impacts to Natural and Agricultural Resources (PDF – Download Here)
This document, authored by Maine-based environmental and agricultural organizations, outlines best practices to avoid and/or minimize impacts to wildlife, farming, and critical natural resources from solar development.
- Model Site Plan Regulations and Conditional Use Permits to Support Solar Energy Systems in Maine Municipalities (PDF – Download Here)
This document describes and models two land-use tools Maine municipalities may use to permit small-, medium-, and large-scale solar energy systems, including both ground-mounted and roof-mounted solar installations. The purpose of this document is to assist Maine municipalities in supporting development of solar energy systems in ways that address the needs of their community.
- Solar FAQ for Siting and Hosting Solar Projects at the Municipal Level
This document was created to provide answers to common questions about solar development that have been raised by municipal officials, landowners, and others considering larger solar projects for their own use or in their communities. (PDF – Download Here)
- Solar Siting Mapping Tool
This GIS-tool aggregates Maine’s mapped natural resources, developed/previously impacted land (such as landfills), as well as solar siting constraints (such as proximity to substations) to aid municipalities, solar developers, and others in identifying areas that may be suitable for solar and that are less likely to impact wildlife and habitat.
Coming Soon: (1) A guide to planting native, pollinator-friendly seed mixes at solar project sites; (2) profiles of wildlife-friendly solar projects; and (3) a guide to community solar.
Maine Audubon Reports:
Renewable Energy and Wildlife in Maine: Avoiding, Minimizing, and Mitigating Impacts to Wildlife and Habitat from Solar, Wind, and Transmission Facilities – Executive Summary (PDF)
Renewable Energy and Wildlife in Maine: Avoiding, Minimizing, and Mitigating Impacts to Wildlife and Habitat from Solar, Wind, and Transmission Facilities – Full Report (PDF)