Houlton entrepreneur builds 200-panel solar installation to power businesses and apartments

HOULTON, Maine – Motorists traveling along U.S. Route 1 in Houlton have likely noticed a large collection of solar panels that have recently appeared.

Run by Houlton resident Cameron Clark, solar panels are just the latest money-spinning venture for the young entrepreneur who started his first business while still in high school. It is also his most ambitious project to date.

A total of 200 solar panels were erected next to the Maine State Police barracks, where Clark’s lawn care business – Cam’s Lawn and Landscaping LLC – is based. The project was a labor of love for Clark, who is passionate about saving the environment.

Solar projects of varying sizes are being built throughout Maine, but most of them are tied to the New England power grid. Clark’s facility is strictly for powering his businesses, including his rental apartments.

“I believe in the transition to sustainable energy, and on the business side, this project will pay for my utility costs for 25 to 30 years, which is very comforting to me as a business owner knowing that the cost of my electricity will never increase,” Clark said. “The solar panel that was installed on my North Street property provides clean energy to 100% of the residential properties I currently own throughout Houlton.

The son of Jayne and Bruce Clark, Cameron made his first foray into the business world when he started his lawn mowing business while still in high school. He also proved to be a handyman with power tools, making picnic tables and later started carving wood with a chainsaw under the name Cam’s Chainsaw Carving.

In 2016, he graduated from Houlton Middle-High School and focused on pursuing a business education at Husson University. In 2018, Clark received the Greater Houlton Chamber of Commerce’s first-ever Young Professional Award for his efforts.

By the time he graduated from college in 2020 with a degree in business administration, Clark was already well on his way to establishing himself as one of the city’s up-and-coming businessmen as his maintenance company lawns extended to include all forms of landscaping and construction, with a team of several employees. He also purchased several apartment buildings in the greater Houlton area.

Reducing his carbon footprint is the project he is most passionate about.

“My personal car is an all-electric vehicle and there will be some in my businesses very soon, so having a power generation facility at my location seemed like the right thing to do,” he said. “The energy from this solar panel also powers some of Houlton’s first carbon neutral apartments when combined with electric heat or heat pumps and that’s something I’m proud to offer.”

Installed by Pine Tree Solar, the energy created by its panels is acquired by Houlton Water Company through a net energy metering agreement. HWC captures energy directly from the solar panel and then credits that energy to its utility bills.

“The grid should produce enough power to cover 100% of the demand from all my apartment buildings across Houlton, but I plan to do another project to allow for future expansion in the property sector,” he said. he declares. “My tenants are thrilled to know that 100% of their electricity is clean and they can actually see where it’s being generated when they visit the grid. My company uses all the energy generated without any being sold to buyers. »

The panels are expected to have a lifespan of 25-30 years, with labor or inverter replacement being the only maintenance.

“With this type of living space, it was simple to calculate that it was a good business decision,” Clark said. “Recently, there has been a sharp increase in energy prices from other Maine utilities, which has driven up costs for customers. While an increase like this is unlikely If this happens in the Houlton Water Company utility district, if it ever does, my tenants will be protected from any cost spikes.