Regarding the Saddleback Ski Area Solar Project
We encourage the owners of the Saddleback Ski Area (Arctaris Impact Fund) to move the location of its proposed grid-scale solar power generating facility to a location that would not impact the views from the Appalachian Trail (A.T.) on Saddleback Mountain. At just over three miles away, the proposed 35-acre solar array would become the dominant feature on the landscape view looking north from the A.T.
Other than Katahdin, Saddleback offers the longest open ridge walk along the A.T. in Maine and about 1.5 miles of this section would have frequent views of the solar development. Given the facility’s high contrast and reflective panels tilted towards the mountain, the array would draw visitors eyes towards them and create a negative impact on what is now a natural view of lakes, forests and mountains.
Saddleback Ski’s stated objectives to move off fossil fuel and source with 100% solar electricity are admirable. We believe Saddleback Ski can reduce its carbon footprint and lower its electricity costs through a less impactful alternative:
- The proposed solar farm will not be owned by the ski resort, but by a sister Arctaris company to manage power generation. Saddleback Solar Company, LLC’s facility will not directly connect to the ski resort either – 100% of its output will be sent to the electrical grid. This power generating enterprise can be located in alternative locations within the CMP (Central Maine Power) distribution network that do not have such scenic impacts and can still offer supply to the ski resort.
- Saddleback Ski will receive its electricity via the current CMP distribution lines. The ski resort can source its solar-generated electricity from the Arctaris-owned Saddleback Solar Company solar farm or any other solar generation facility, likely at prices below the current offer rate.
- Arctaris can participate in a Community Solar project anywhere in southern Maine to supply power to Saddleback Ski.
- Saddleback Ski can purchase solar-generated power from another Community Solar facility along with renewable energy credits that can lower its electricity price and still achieve its clean energy objectives.
The Maine Appalachian Trail Club (MATC) and the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) hold the position that development must be balanced against the recreational, scenic, natural and cultural resources of the Appalachian Trail (A.T.). As stewards of the A.T. in Maine, part of MATC’s mission is to preserve the scenic integrity and minimize development impacts adjacent to the A.T.
Both the ATC and MATC support Saddleback Ski moving to 100% solar-sourced electricity and encourage them to seek alternatives that would have less impact on the views for the visitors to the Appalachian Trail and Saddleback Mountain.