Solar Farm Approved by Frederick County Commissioners

A large solar farm will soon be built at Mount Saint Mary’s College in Emmitsburg, MD (Frederick County).  On Wednesday, the Frederick County Commissioners unanimously approved plans for Constellation Energy Group to develop a 135-acre parcel of university land for the purpose of a solar farm. The state of Maryland will buy the energy produced by some 220,000 solar panels for 20 years. The $60 million project is scheduled to be completed at the end of 2012. Constellation also plans to build a smaller solar facility to generate elextricity for Mount St. Mary’s. From the Frederick News Post:

Linda Sherman, director of communications for the university, said the farm may be the largest on any campus in the U.S.

In addition to making the campus more sustainable, the farm will provide an opportunity for students to learn, she said. There will be an observation and classroom area near the section powering the school, and university students majoring in environmental science will also benefit from it.

The $60 million project is expected to generate 22 million kilowatt-hours per year of electricity. The portion approved Wednesday will generate 16.1 megawatts of direct current, and the panels serving Mount St. Mary’s will generate 1.3 megawatts of direct current.

Because of the unusual nature of the project, the planning commission approved several waivers from county development codes. For instance, they modified landscaping and buffering requirements, so trees would not cast shade on the panels.

The developer will still be required to use landscaping to screen the 6-foot-tall security fence with barbed wire, and preserve trees farther from the panels.

The commission also approved waivers for parking, loading and bicycle rack requirements because the farm will be unmanned and visited only for maintenance.

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