St. Mary’s County Solar Task Force Submits Final Report to Commissioners

St. Mary’s County Solar Task Force Submits Final Report to Commissioners

The Commissioners of St. Mary’s County will review the final report and recommendations prepared by the St. Mary’s County Solar Task Force on August 17 in open session. The Task Force was formed by the Commissioners after hearing about solar development concerns from County residents.

The Task Force’s final report includes 37 recommendations that address all sizes of solar projects, including small accessory use solar projects for residential, commercial, industrial, and institutional sites; mid-sized community solar projects; and large utility-scale projects. The recommendations cover definitions, zoning requirements, application processes, setback and buffer requirements, decommissioning requirements, and potential fiscal and policy incentives to encourage smart solar development.

Additionally, the final report includes information on key solar concepts such as types of solar projects, net metering and aggregate net metering,

The Task Force also established seven guiding principles that informed the Task Force’s recommendations. The principles include:

  1. Improve Quality of Life
  2. Protect and Promote Economic Development
  3. Protect Important Environmental and Historic Lands
  4. Encourage Smart Solar Development
  5. Reduce Air and Water Pollution and Climate Change
  6. Promote Clear and Transparent Processes
  7. Encourage Equity

The Task Force consisted of five representatives, including one education representative, one agricultural representative, one utility representative, and two community representatives. The Task Force also contracted with an outside consultant, who provided general research and guidance, and the Chesapeake Conservancy Conservation Innovation Center, which produced a study on optimal solar siting conditions in the County.

The Task Force met 15 times between June 10, 2020 and June 21, 2021. During its deliberations, the Task Force consulted with a variety of stakeholders, including the United States Navy, the agricultural community, state and local fire service representatives, the Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative (SMECO), the County’s Department of Land Use and Growth Management, and other County government agencies. MACo assisted in gathering the solar zoning ordinances of other counties for Task Force review.

Useful Links

Task Force Final Report

List of Task Force Meeting Videos on YouTube

Chesapeake Conservancy Report on Optimal Solar Siting for St. Mary’s County

Michael Sanderson

Executive Director Maryland Association of Counties