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(NECN: Amy Sinclair - Harpswell, Maine) - With lobster prices way down this year, Maine lobstermen are looking to cut costs wherever they can – and for the owner of Potts Harbor Lobster and Reversing Falls Lobster Wharf in Harpswell, that includes his power bill.
Now, with help from the sun, Jim Merryman is hoping those high electric bills are a thing of the past.
“The wharf with compressors, refrigeration, water pump … you know, [it costs] six, seven, 800 a month,” Merryman said.
In September, Merryman hired Revision Energy to design and install a 10-kilowatt, grid-tied solar energy system, making this the first solar-powered wharf in Maine.
His co-founder, Phil Coupe, said, “Jim is getting out in front of sustainability by making this long-term investment in renewable solar electricity."
The system cost Merryman $46,000, but he was able to lower the price by taking advantage of tax credits, a state rebate and a federal grant program that awards money to small businesses that want to switch to alternative energy.
Over time, Merryman believes the panels on his roof and inside the pound will pay for themselves.
While he hasn't gotten his first post-solar electric bill yet, Merryman knows he'll see a big drop -- but just as important, he says, is knowing he's helping to sustain his industry. .
“Water quality is key to success of our lobster industry,” he said. “By cutting our carbon footprint … every little bit helps."
Merryman says he's always been proud of his industry's sustainable practices. Now, he says he feels even better about the product he's putting on the market.
“So our lobsters are the greenest lobsters in the state of Maine,” Merryman said, “which is cool."