Engineering firm opens Maine office to work on solar connections

Tux Turkel, Portland Press Herald, Maine
·2 min read

Apr. 19—An engineering firm with a global presence is opening an office in South Portland on Tuesday aimed at speeding the connection of solar energy projects to the electric grid, a move that it says could create 100 full-time jobs by year's end.

K&A Engineering Consulting, a White Plains, New York-based power and utilities engineering firm with operations in the United States and Nepal, is coming to Maine to work on the bottleneck of solar interconnection projects, notably in Central Maine Power's service area.

The bottleneck is caused by laws passed in Maine in 2019 that encourage the development of utility-scale and community solar farms. Those laws have triggered a surge of hundreds of project proposals, so many that CMP has had trouble hooking them up without seeking costly upgrades.

In late February, CMP said it was working on faster, less expensive solutions. But the issue caused so much pushback from solar developers that the Maine Public Utilities Commission has launched an investigation. Meanwhile, the Legislature is reviewing the laws to determine whether incentives Maine offers to solar farm developers are too generous.

K&A Engineering plans to host a press event and ribbon cutting Tuesday at its new office at 1 Runway Road. Among the scheduled speakers are Purna Kharel, the company's chief executive and president, and Doug Herling, CMP's chief executive. K&A Engineering said it will unveil plans to speed up the development of more than 400 megawatts of distributed solar power and community solar farms across the state.

"We are a CMP contractor performing interconnection studies, engineering, project management and construction management for their renewable energy projects and other electrical projects," Kharel said in a statement.

K&A Engineering said it initially will have "dozens of jobs" here. The company also serves other utilities in Maine.