They're paying an energy consultant $8,600 to see if solar power would pay off for city buildings. To finance that, city officials are using funds already set aside for an energy audit.
The consultant, ReVision Energy Inc., is going to look into how and where Bangor could install solar technology to run municipal buildings.
"If we can make it work, it is the wave of the future," said Bangor City Councilor David Nealley. He's on the city's Finance Committee, which approved entering into the contract at a meeting Monday night.
Councilors said ReVision Energy, a Maine company, made the lowest bid to analyze whether solar is a good fit for Bangor.
City officials said they've been interested in solar for years because they want to see if it would save the city money in the long run.
"What it will end up doing is lower the city's energy costs," said Debbie Cyr, Bangor's Finance Director, about potential benefits of the project, "which in turn lowers the cost on to the citizens."
That's what ReVision Energy has been hired to look into. They'll study rooftop panels and the potential for putting solar arrays on city owned open land. The consultant will also judge Bangor's utility usage.
Councilors mostly expressed support for the idea, but said cost could keep them from seeing it all the way through.
"We want to make sure that if we do make the investment, that it pays for itself and works well," said Councilor Nealley.
ReVision Energy is being paid to work with the city for the next couple weeks. If they decide the solar tech is feasible it could be used to power municipal buildings. Some councilors said they hope it could eventually expand to public use, too.
"I think it's great," said Bangor City Councilor Gibran Graham. "People just need to keep an open mind. You know, it's something that we haven't done yet. We're seeing a lot of great results from other municipalities throughout the state. I think Bangor needs to be at that table."
Cyr said she hopes the council will make a final decision on whether or not to install solar technology by the end of the calendar year That would mean it could be included in the annual budget planning process.
She said at this point in the process, it's too soon to know how much it would cost the city to implement solar technology.