Frederick Asks PSC to Apply New County Solar Ordinance to LeGore Bridge Project

A Frederick News-Post article (2017-07-24) reported that attorneys for Frederick County have requested the Maryland Public Service Commission (PSC) to reopen its consideration for a utility scale solar project based on a new County solar ordinance that was passed in May. The ordinance would limit solar projects to 75 acres or less.  Representatives for the proposed 20-megawatt/170-acre LeGore Bridge Solar Center on Clyde Young Road oppose the request, arguing that the project was already granted a special exception by the County’s Board of Zoning Appeals. The project has not yet received a certificate of public convenience and necessity (CPCN) from the PSC.  From the article:

Senior Assistant County Attorney Wendy S. Kearney wrote that the LeGore Bridge Solar Center received special exception approval “under the shadow of an Executive Order” that temporarily halted new solar array development, and with the caveat that any approval they received could be subject to new legislation.

Public Utility Law Judge Robert H. McGowan reopened the case for the limited purpose of allowing the county to file a brief addressing three issues: the impact of the ordinance on the project, whether an earlier special exception was still valid, and what options the project has for speedy approval under the new ordinance.

On Friday, the county filed a five-page brief stating that they believe the ordinance passed by the County Council applies to the project because it did not meet grandfathering provisions or the state’s legal standard for vested development rights.  …

The county asked the judge to delay a final decision on the project until the new process for floating zone approval can begin, or acknowledge in any final decision that the project will need county approval to proceed.

Attorneys for the project are expected to file a response later this week.

The article also noted that the project developer, Coronal Energy, previously opposed the County ordinance and also sought language to grandfather the LeGore Bridge and one other project. A solar project by another developer that had received its CPCN prior to the adoption of the ordinance is currently under construction.