New $4 million solar project for Auburn

Kathryn Skelton, Sun Journal, Lewiston, Maine
·2 min read

Mar. 10—This week the Buzz is building, growing and getting in a few jumping jacks.

First up: The Auburn Planning Board approved a $4 million, 4-megawatt solar array project off North River Road.

Hexagon Energy, behind the Auburn Solar project, "is a small developer based out of Charlottesville, Virginia, drawn to do business in Maine by the recent pro-solar legislation," according to its application.

The array will take up 18 acres of fields on three leased parcels that total 55 acres behind 1054 North River Road.

It will be at least 400 feet away from North River Road and have a minimal impact on nearby residents, according to the application.

Hexagon hopes to finish construction by the end of the year, though utility delays could push it into 2022.

Director of Planning and Permitting Eric Cousens said the newest project brings Auburn up to four approved solar projects totaling about 100 acres of panels.

Future Equity, with an address in Sabattus, received a commercial permit last month to build a 48- by 100-foot wooden building on outer Washington Street for a marijuana cultivation facility.

The $250,000 project is bound for 823 Washington St. North. The permit notes that the site will need a change of use permit from a two-family home to a storefront, suggesting a shop will follow.

In other city permits, 159 Lisbon Street is changing the use at 14 Millett Drive in Auburn from an insurance agency to a nutrition shop and adding a bar, a $15,000 project.

In Lewiston, a barbershop is planned for 239 Lisbon St., a $35,000 project by owner Didier Mulumba, according to that city's permit report.

In the past week, Insurify.com jogged two sets of numbers and sent out news releases that lauded both Maine and Lewiston.

The website used its database of four million car insurance applications, AAA and CarMD to find Maine is the 5th least expensive state for car ownership in the country.

Factoring into that: The average monthly auto insurance premium is $126 and insurance costs on average only go up $16 after one motor vehicle violation, according to the company.

Now drive that car over to Lewiston, park it and go for a nice walk.

The same website declared Lewiston the fittest city in Maine in 2021 using markers like the the number of residents with physically demanding or health-promoting jobs and access to parks.

In most states, it was large cities — Boston, New Orleans, San Diego, New York City, Memphis, Philadelphia — so it's interesting company to be in.