City Council Focusing on Giant Solar Array, TIF Amendments & Puppy Mills

Wednesday night’s Portland City Council meeting featured a unanimous decision to authorize City Manager Jon Jennings to negotiate an agreement with ReVision Energy LLC to install a 660 kilowatt solar array in the Ocean Avenue Landfill. 

“It’s Solar Day!”, said Councilor Jon Hinck with a smile as he introduced the order. Hinck sponsored the vote with the Energy and Sustainability Committee, a move that was met with enthusiasm by Portland’s climate advocacy groups, notably the Sierra Club, whose Climate Action Team members voiced approval during the public comments time.

The project, costing the City of Portland $150,000 over six years, would create one of the largest municipal arrays in Maine. Glen Brand, Maine Chapter Director of the Sierra Club, touted that the array would, “generate enough energy to power Merrill Auditorium and City Hall.”
The undisputed approval vote occurred after council members and public attendees spent the majority of the meeting debating the addition and content of four amendments to a proposed tax incentive for biotech firm ImmuCell Corp’s planned factory expansion.  

Mayor Ethan Strimling added three amendments requiring the developers of the expansion to (1) pay livable wages to workers, (2) hire local skilled workers, and (3) implement an apprenticeship program. Councilor Hinck proposed an amendment requiring ImmuCell to meet energy efficiency standards adopted by the City Council in 2009.

Many public attendees took the opportunity to voice their approval or disapproval of the addition of the amendments. Councilors Thibodau, Ray, and Duson expressed their opposition to reopening the Tax Increment Financing (TIF) measure, saying that it would be more efficient to talk about restrictions outside of the context of a specific order. The vote on the measure will be postponed until September 19th.

To close the public portion of the meeting, Councilors also unanimously passed an ordinance banning the retail sale of dogs and cats in Portland—effectively prohibiting pet stores in the city from selling dogs or cats unless they came from a rescue organization.