Howard Breaks Ground on MD’s Largest Solar Power Purchase Agreement

Howard County Executive Calvin Ball, joined by state and local leaders, last week broke ground on the first of 11 transformational solar projects as part of Howard County’s Power Purchase Agreement (PPA). The agreement will generate a monumental 44,000,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh) a year, which will cover more than 50 percent of the County’s energy usage and is the equivalent of taking 6,781 cars off the road.

PPA Groundbreaking Ceremony (photo courtesy of Howard County Government)

“Through the PPA, CI Renewables will, at no cost to the County, construct, operate, and maintain the solar panels and associated solar energy generation equipment at its sole expense,” said County Executive Ball. “These solar arrays will be throughout our community on both public and private land. From rooftops to carports to ground mounts, we’re maximizing our ability to capture solar energy at our libraries, firehouses, police stations, our new circuit courthouse, and more.”

The solar energy systems will be on County-owned and non-County-owned property. The County will pay a per kWh rate for the electricity generated, just as it would to any other energy supplier.

There will be solar projects on 11 separate sites:

  • Triple Creek Farm
  • Clear View Farm
  • Rural Rhythm Farm
  • Circuit Courthouse rooftop & ground mount
  • East Columbia Library rooftop & carport
  • Gateway Building rooftop & carport
  • Carrs Mill Landfill
  • 50+ Center in East Columbia
  • Waterloo Firehouse
  • Scaggsville Police Station
  • Detention Center

“Today, we celebrate the groundbreaking of the first of eleven solar projects as part of the Howard County’s Power Purchase Agreement,” said County Council Vice Chair Opel Jones. “Reducing the use of plastics and greenhouse gas emissions is imperative to the vitality of Howard County, which is why earlier this year, I was thrilled to vote in favor of Council Bill 17-2021. Due to the passage of CB17, Howard County will be a leader in Maryland and regionally in solar production starting here at the Triple Creek Farm!”

According to a County press release:

“I am proud to join community leaders and residents in Howard County today as we break ground on this critical solar energy project,” said Congressman Sarbanes, a prominent member of the House Environment and Climate Change Subcommittee. “With Howard County leading the way, we can take important steps forward to expand Maryland’s clean energy capacity, reduce our state’s carbon emissions, combat climate change and protect our environmental treasures – like the Chesapeake Bay – for generations to come.”

“Howard County Government is providing a great example of how to implement solar power systems across multiple facilities while working with the solar community to identify the best locations,” said Dr. Mary Beth Tung, director of the Maryland Energy Administration. “We are delighted to provide funding support to help the County leverage a number of sites, including those that have dual uses such as buildings and parking lots as part of its energy portfolio.”

“This project is proof that when we come together, we can come up with incredible solutions that provide more opportunities for our farmers and small businesses in the solar industry; provide clean, affordable energy for Howard County residents; and take action to fight climate change and leave this planet cleaner and more livable for future generations – all at the same time,” said Senator Katie Fry Hester. “I look forward to working with the County Executive to learn more about what made this project possible and acting to replicate this success across the State of Maryland.”

“On behalf of CI Renewables, we are delighted to celebrate the groundbreaking for the largest solar project for any county in Maryland. This milestone project is a direct result of County Executive Calvin Ball’s vision and initiative for clean energy and the leadership of the Howard County Office of Sustainability,” said Alan Epstein, CEO of CI Renewables. “Together with Howard County we have effectively achieved a public/private partnership to build 19 separate solar projects on County sites and private sites resulting in long term electric savings for Howard County and no capital investment by Howard County.  This is a true triple play – a win for the environment, a win for Howard County and a win for the local economy.”

“This is truly an example for the rest of the State,” said Josh Tulkin, director of the Maryland Sierra Club. “The standard has now been lifted. We need a competition, a positive competition, and this is the kind of energy activists like to see. Every solar panel we put up takes the pressure off our coal, fossil fuel, and gas, and power plants and gets us one step closer to not just producing clean energy, but also getting off the energy that continues to pollute predominantly Black and Brown communities.”

Visit the Howard County website for more information.

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