LINCOLNVILLE, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- In the middle of summer, the small library in Lincolnville is getting ready to beat the cost of winter. The library is installing a full solar electric system, which they say should power all the lights and a heat pump to heat and cool the building.
Library leaders say the solar system has been part of the plan since the building project started three years ago. Lincolnville didn't have a true library before a group of volunteers began raising money, then acquired an old 1850's school house from the town. The building was moved across Route 52 to the site of a former gas station, which had been cleaned up by the state. They totally rebuilt the building, adding extra insulation and updating windows, including a full wall of glass on the south side. Board member Cindy Dunham says they didn't have the money to complete the solar system until the library received a $15,000 grant from Efficiency Maine. The contractor, Revision Energy, agreed to donate the labor, and the library used donated funds for the balance.
This week, Revision workers were installing the solar panels, wiring and electric inverter to operate the system. The company says the 30 panels should provide more electricity than the building will need. The rest will be sent into the CMP electric grid, and the library will get credit for that power. On cloudy days, when the solar panels don't generate, the library will use the credits to draw power from the grid. Dunham says they're hoping the combination of building insulation, passive solar from the south-facing windows and the heat pump will make the library a "net zero" building, meaning it will generate at least as much power as it consumes. John Luft of Revision says they can structure the billing so any excess power credits can be given to other town facilities, such as the school or town office.
Librarian Sheila Polson says they hope the library will also serve as an example to the community of what can be done to reduce energy consumption and costs.