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Boothbay Smart Grid Reliability Pilot Project To Start This Fall

Smart Grid Workshop Scheduled for Tues Sept. 11, 2012
5-7 pm, at Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens

Rich Silkman – 772-6190
Steve Hinchman – 837-8637

BOOTHBAY, ME (Aug. 31, 2012) – GridSolar, LLC, announced today that it will host a workshop in Boothbay on Sept. 11, 2012 to explain the upcoming Boothbay Smart Grid Reliability Pilot Project due to get underway this fall.

“The Maine Public Utilities Commission has designated the Boothbay peninsula as the location for a three-year pilot project to test whether we can improve the stability of the electric grid by making it smarter, instead of larger,” said Rich Silkman, managing member of GridSolar, which has been designated by the PUC to serve as the smart grid pilot project operator


Presentation to the NRCM

Powerpoint file of the presentation to the Natural Resources Council of Maine on January 21, 2010.

[Download Here]

Supergrid for Renewables: Coloring the US Grid Green

Modernizing the US grid is a mammoth task, one that is spurring new lines of thought about generation and transmission resources.

by Elisa Wood
Renewable Energy World
Oct. 6, 2009

Renegades, some may call them, but people have lived off-grid for decades by relying exclusively on solar panels for electricity. Disconnected from their local utility, they have no central back-up and no reliability. Most solar electric users are less extreme. They remain connected to the utility and use a combination of solar and grid power.

Now, a Maine, US energy company has proposed a third and unique kind of relationship between solar energy system owners and the conventional electric grid. It is neither on-grid nor off-grid; instead solar energy becomes the grid.


Intervenors Spar Over CMP's Proposed Transmission Upgrade

by A.J. Higgins
Maine Public Radio
Sept. 30, 2009

Maine's Public Utilities Commission is supposed to be an independent quasi-judicial body that ensures reliable utility service and fair rates for Maine consumers. But Richard Silkman says he's becoming increasingly worried about influence peddling by current and former members of Gov. John Baldacci's administration.

Silkman, a former state planning director under Republican Gov. John McKernan, wants the PUC to consider his own solar power project as an alternative to CMP'S. But just as the three-member PUC commission prepares to review CMP's application, the future makeup of the panel remains uncertain.

Commissioner Sharon Reishus's term of office has expired, but she continues to serve as chair until she is reappointed or a replacement is named. The Baldacci administration has been weighing Reishus's reappointment for the last six months and Silkman fears she is caught in a power play over the CMP upgrade plan that Gov. John Baldacci favors.

"It doesn't take six months to evaluate those kinds of credentials. She hasn't been reappointed. We're concerned about what the quid pro quo is," Silkman says.


GridSolar moving forward

by Deirdre Fulton
Portland Phoenix
August 11, 2009

GridSolar, which I wrote about last month, achieved a victory in Saco this week. The Saco City Council said okay to a 20-year lease on city-owned land, adjacent to a former city landfill. It's the first of these types of arrangements for GridSolar, which proposes building medium-scale solar panel installations on 8000 open-field acres around Maine to fill gaps in energy supply at peak-demand times. The proposal is presented as an alternative to larger-scale power-plant build-up, which would require massive transmission-infrastructure improvements.

The terms of the agreement, which can't be acted on until the Maine Public Utilities Commission provides GridSolar with a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity, state that GS will pay an annual lease fee of $25,000 for the property as well as property taxes on all improvements to the property.

[Download Press Release -PDF]

Energy and ME: Terrestial Wind. Deep-water wind. Tidal. Solar. Maine's Got Power and Everyone Wants a Piece

by Kathryn Skelton
Sun Journal
July 26, 2009

Mick Peterson says by 2011 he expects a tidal energy project with turbines packed into tractor-trailer-sized units submerged off Eastport to start feeding power into the New England grid. It's a project that, he says, truly puts that type of energy production to the test: If tidal can't work here, it can't work anywhere in the United States.

Habib Dagher wants to tether a giant windmill 10 miles off the coast by 2012 as a test site that taps into massive Gulf of Maine winds. He says that energy, and the jobs that follow "could transform our economy for forever." In November, the Legislature and Gov. John Baldacci will ask voters if they want to put $6 million into the idea.

Meanwhile, GridSolar LLC wants federal stimulus money to make an as-yet-unnamed town in Maine a test site for solar energy — and keep making its case to unseat Central Maine Power Co.'s billion-dollar transmission line upgrade.

Proposals for renewable energy are generating talk across Maine and increasingly, developers have not only dreams, but dates.


Smart Solar

by Deirdre Fulton
The Portland Phoenix
July 8, 2009

Maine will never be a leader in wind-energy development, says Richard Silkman, co-founder and -manager of a firm that could revolutionize the way we address energy issues in this state and throughout the region. "We missed our chance," he stated flatly during a presentation at the Maine Audubon Society in June. But now we have a new shot at trendsetter status, in a different industry — solar. And Silkman, along with business partner Mark Isaacson, has a plan to get us there.


GridSolar Project Makes Sense for Maine Ratepayers

by Rich Silkman and Mark Isaacson
Bangor Daily News
June 23, 2009

In a June 13 OpEd, “Maine power project will deliver,” George Loehr, a consultant to Central Maine Power Co., argued that the $1.5 billion CMP has proposed to spend on its transmission grid is necessary to ensure that Maine's electric grid remains reliable. Sure, spending $1.5 billion will improve Maine's transmission grid. Spending $1.5 billion on just about anything will make it better. That's not the point. The point is whether or not spending $1.5 billion as CMP has proposed to spend it is a wise use of Maine ratepayer money.


Solar Beats Power Lines in State Poll

by Tux Turkel
Portland Press Herald
May 28, 2009

PORTLAND - By a nearly 2-to-1 ratio, Mainers would prefer using solar panels to upgrade the state's power grid over putting up high-voltage lines, according to a poll released Wednesday.

Younger people and those who say they support environmental causes are most likely to see solar energy as the answer to keeping the lights on, the poll suggests.

The poll was released at a news conference organized by GridSolar LLC, a Portland-based company that hopes to fill the state's future electricity needs with acres of strategically placed solar collectors. The event was part of a high-stakes campaign to present an alternative to Central Maine Power Co.'s proposed $1.5 billion upgrade of the state's transmission system.

Download our press release - pdf

GridSolar Project Fills Demand, Creates Jobs, At Lower Cost

by Rich Silman and Mark Iassacson
Kennebec Journal
May 17, 2009

Despite claims to the contrary, we don't need to upgrade CMP's transmission lines in order to transmit the power from wind generation facilities in Maine to electricity users in the Northeast. Wind projects are already online in Stetson and Freedom and under construction at Kibby Mountain. New projects have been proposed in Rollins, Roxbury, Dixmont and Rumford, while many others are in the pre-development stages. Maine's current transmission grid is more than adequate for these projects and many more like them.

Read CMP's Response

Firm Pitches Solar Farms Over Huge CMP Expansion

by Geoff Cunningham, Jr.
Fosters Daily Democrat
May 6, 2009

KITTERY, Maine — A small company out of Portland is pitching a big plan that would substitute solar power for a Central Maine Power proposal calling for $1.5 billion in new transmission lines to meet Maine's future peak power needs. GridSolar LLC. — a 35-person company based in Portland — is offering the Maine Public Utilities Commission an alternative to the CMP proposal that would meet peak electric demands through the generation of power in small solar farms that would be built in the regions projected to have power shortfalls within the next 10 years.


Eternal Sunshine is Maine's Power Answer

Guest Column: Lewiston Sun Journal
March 22, 2009

Gov. John Baldacci got it partly right in his State of the State speech this year. Renewable energy must play a major role in meeting Maine's electricity requirements in the future. But that renewable energy should be developed in Maine. The state does not need what the governor referred to as "energy corridors" that enable new generation to be developed in Eastern Canada and shipped through Maine to southern New England.


CMP's Power Grid Expansion Unnecessary

Maine Voices: Maine Sunday Telegram
March 15, 2009

In an editorial on March 8 ("Questions remain, but grid upgrade necessary"), the Maine Sunday Telegram endorsed Central Maine Power's spending $1.5 billion on its transmission system – despite the fact that Maine's Public Advocate's Office has determined that the spending is not needed.


GridSolar Responds to Governor's State of the State Address

March 11, 2009

In this report from WCSH6, GridSolar partner Rich Silkman responds to Governor Baldacci's energy initiatives included in his State of the State Address.


GridSolar Plan Has Advantages Over CMP Upgrade, Saco Officials Told

Press Release
March 5, 2009

Officials from GridSolar, LLC, which has proposed a less costly and cleaner alternative to Central Maine Power Company's proposal to upgrade its high-voltage transmission lines, told the Saco Energy Committee Thursday that its plan has several advantages over CMP's proposal.

(Download our press release - PDF)

GridSolar, LLC Petitions PUC To Develop and Distribute Solar Generation

Press Release
Feb. 1, 2009

Portland-based GridSolar, LLC, today filed a petition with the Maine Public Utilities Commission to become a Maine transmission and distribution utility. The GridSolar Project would develop up to 800 MW of distributed solar generation and represents an alternative to the proposal by CMP to spend $1.5 billion on its Maine Power Reliability Project, the so-called “MPRP.”

(Download our press release - PDF)

In Maine, Could Distributed Solar Replace A Power Line?

Feb. 2, 2009

Central-station versus distributed power, writ small. An entrepreneur has put some sturdy little legs on a debate that's usually theoretical: what is more desirable, the central-station power model or the distributed power model.


Maine Utility Says Solar a Viable Option for Peak Use

Portland Press Herald
Feb. 3, 2009

Acres of solar-electric panels installed near communities that use lots of power in the summer could be an alternative to a controversial and costly upgrade of the transmission system in southern and central Maine, a Portland-based energy company is asserting.


Press Release - Fernwood Cove

Press Release
March 1, 2009

PORTLAND – GridSolar, LLC and Fernwood Cove announced that they had entered into an option agreement under which GridSolar has the right to lease up to 50 acres of land owned by Fernwood Cove in Harrison, Maine for the purpose of installing distributed solar generation in furtherance of the GridSolar Project.


Response to Portland Press Herald Editorial - CMP's Reliabilty Problem


Central Maine Power says it has a severe reliability problem. No doubt it does, but the issue is CMP's credibility, not a failing electrical grid. Yes, the grid always needs improvements and updating. But Maine shouldn't drop all other energy priorities and immediately spend $1.5 billion on CMP's so-called Maine Power Reliability Project (MPRP). And for those grid investments that are necessary, CMP's strategy is entirely backwards: they are proposing to start with the most expensive (and dirtiest) option first.