Washington County #1 in State for Solar Energy Capacity

An August 18 Herald Mail-Media article reported that Washington County has the highest solar capacity of any county in Maryland and explored the rapidly increasing use of solar generation facilities by governments, businesses, and residents.

MEA officials said the county’s solar capacity represents about 18 percent of the state’s total 184-megawatt capacity as of Aug. 4.

In comparison, only about 1 megawatt of power generated in the state came from solar sources in 2007, according to MEA Director Abigail Hopper, who said Gov. Martin O’Malley has set a goal of generating 1,200 megawatts of power through solar energy by 2022, among other renewable-energy initiatives.

The article noted that Washington County has a capacity of 33.8 megawatts according to the Maryland Energy Administration (MEA).  Much of that capacity is derived from a solar farm at a state prison, but the county and at least one of its municipalities are entering into solar farm agreements in the near future.

On the government level, Washington County and the Town of Boonsboro have agreements in place for solar-farm projects in the near future.

The county’s goal is to create up to 25 megawatts of power through an array placed on up to 130 acres of county landfill properties that would be leased to EPG Solar, according to Julie Pippel, director of the county’s division of environmental management.

Estimated to bring in $12.8 million in revenues and cost savings over a 25-year period, the project would make Washington County the only one in Maryland to generate 100 percent of its power for government operations from solar energy, Pippel said.

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