Change in Law Permits Net-Metered Solar Arrays for Maryland Town
The town of Rock Hall, Md., opened its third new net-metered solar array, which was installed by Standard Solar and will be owned and operated by Washington Gas Energy Systems. The 1.26 MW Rock Hall solar system is Kent County’s second solar project to make use of Maryland’s new aggregate, net-metering law that allows one solar system to serve facilities at various locations. The electricity produced by the array will be used by the town’s waste water treatment plant, water treatment plant and pumping station, Rock Hall Town Hall, Rock Hall Elementary School and the Kent County Board of Education Building, providing approximately 75 percent of their electricity needs.
In order to use net-metering, Kent County had to get a law changed from the public service commission, says Ron Fithian, the president of the Board of County Commissioners for Kent County and town manager of Rock Hall.
“In the past, if you had a solar field, it would have to be physically connected to the customer it was going to sell its power to,” says Fithian. With net-metering, the solar-generated electricity goes into grid, is metered, and is allocated to the chosen facilities.
The newest 5,300 panel ground-mounted system will provide an estimated 1,674 MWh of renewable, emission-free electricity annually to the five county facilities. The Rock Hall installation, together with the recently completed Worton and Kennedyville projects, will provide more than 4MW of solar power.
Rock Hall will purchase the electricity generated by the system under a long-term power purchase agreement with Washington Gas Energy Systems. There were no upfront costs to the town of Rock Hall to build the solar system. The town did invest the seven acres of land, which was sitting idle, says Fithian. In return, the municipality will get a discounted rate – projected to be as much as 30 percent less than the standard utility rate.
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