Thoughtfully Sited Solar

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 Solar Toolkit, 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.

Resources

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 (download here).Best Practices for Low Impact Solar Siting, Design, and Maintenance -- Avoiding and Minimizing Impacts to Natural and Agricultural Resources

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 (download here).Model Site Plan Regulations and Conditional Use Permits to Support Solar Energy Systems in Maine Municipalities

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 (download here).

This GIS tool provides resources developers and decision-makers need to locate solar and land-based wind projects in areas that avoid or minimize negative impacts to important wildlife habitats. While many of the included data layers are individually available elsewhere, this tool brings these datasets together into one map and allows the visual display of siting principles developed by Maine Audubon’s biologists and ecologists. 
> Click here for the Renewable Energy Siting Tool

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.

Other Resources

Report: Renewable Energy and Wildlife in Maine: Avoiding, Minimizing, and Mitigating Impacts to Wildlife and Habitat from Solar, Wind, and Transmission Facilities: Executive Summary (PDF)

Report: Renewable Energy and Wildlife in Maine: Avoiding, Minimizing, and Mitigating Impacts to Wildlife and Habitat from Solar, Wind, and Transmission Facilities: Full Report (PDF)

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