Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Maryland Board Approves Solar Farm Lease at Prison Site

An aerial view of the property near the Maryland Correctional Institution
 where a 20MW PV plant will be built. (Photo courtesy of Google Images)
The Board of Public Works voted 2-1 on Wednesday to lease about 250 acres of state prison land in Western Maryland to Maryland Solar to develop the state’s largest solar energy farm. The 20-megawatt solar project is being developed by Easton-based Maryland Solar LLC next to the medium-security Maryland Correctional Institution near Hagerstown. Construction will create about 125 jobs and boost the state’s efforts to increase renewable energy. The payment in lieu of taxes for Washington County of $2.4 million does not use state dollars or state risk. The terms of the 20-year lease call for the company to pay the state $32,050 a year, with a 3 percent increase after the third year.

Maryland Solar was created by Beowulf Energy, whose managing director, Michael Enright, served as Gov. Martin O’Malley’s chief of staff and senior adviser before he left the administration last year. O’Malley, who sits on the board with Franchot and Treasurer Nancy Kopp, noted his former adviser’s position at the company before voting to approve the deal.

Maryland Solar will get $24 million in federal subsidies for the project.

Maryland’s renewable energy goals calls for using solar energy for 2 percent of the state’s overall power needs by 2022. That would require the state to have between 1,000 and 1,200 megawatts of solar power. The state currently only has about 20 megawatts of solar energy.  (The Daily Record, 7/27/2011)

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