Green or renewable energy includes wind, solar, or hydroelectric power. These sources of energy are not depleted when used; they can be replenished. Also included are tidal, wave, and biomass sources. (Green energy is not derived from fossil fuels such as oil, natural gas, or propane; these fuels are depleted when used.)
Maryland customers may install solar or wind energy at their home or business. These installations are regulated by the Maryland Public Service Commission because your system must safely “interconnect” with your electric company’s distribution system. The interconnection application process is the same for all Maryland customers.
Customers who produce more energy than they use may have a “net meter” installed so they can receive credits on their electric bills. Most homeowners who have a net meter use solar panels that generate less than 15 kilowatts.
Solar Panels at Home:
Are you interested in having solar panels installed at your home? SMECO customer-members who want to generate their own electricity can participate in the Co-op’s net metering program. Federal and state incentives may be available.
Is Solar Right for You?
Enter an address and WattPlan will estimate your potential for a rooftop solar array. You will get an estimate of the electricity you can generate and how much you might save each year on your electric bill.
The figures shown in WattPlan are estimates only and do not constitute a guarantee of savings on your electric bill.
SMECO’s Solar Power Seminar on Video:
Visit YouTube for tips on installing solar power at your home.
Safety Around Solar Panels:
Like any other source of electricity, solar panels can pose a hazard. Be aware of the risks and learn how to respond in case of an emergency.
Wind Energy at Home:
If you’re interested in wind energy, the net metering requirements also apply.
Wind Energy for SMECO:
Wind power is an important part of SMECO’s renewable energy strategy. We buy a portion of the power generated by three wind farms in Pennsylvania. Mehoopany Wind Farm, the largest wind project in the state, uses 88 turbines that stand on 9,000 acres near Scranton. The other two facilities are both in Somerset County, the Stony Creek and Lookout wind farms. Together, the three farms have a possible generating capacity of more than 230 megawatts (MW).
Renewable Energy Systems is constructing a fourth farm for SMECO’s wind power portfolio, Hog Creek in northwestern Ohio. When completed in late 2017, Hog Creek will generate up to 66 MW of renewable energy. SMECO will purchase the farm’s output for 20 years.
SMECO has a solar farm, located in Hughesville, which has been generating electricity since November 2012. You can see how much energy the solar farm has produced. Check out our website: SMECO Solar.
Buying Solar Energy:
Purchasing solar energy is one way SMECO works to fulfill its renewable portfolio obligation, as required by the state, at the lowest cost to its members. Utilities are obligated to purchase .7 percent of their load from solar energy resources in 2016; that percentage increases each year until reaching 2.5 percent in 2020. Utilities that don’t purchase the required amount of solar energy must pay a penalty.
SMECO has an agreement to purchase power from an affiliate of juwi solar Inc. (JSI), which operates the 10-megawatt (MW) Rockfish Solar facility located in Waldorf. The Co-op will purchase all generated energy, capacity, and solar renewable energy credits for 20 years. The facility began generating electricity in June 2015.
The 80-acre solar photovoltaic facility employs single axis tracking technology with approximately 41,000 modules of solar panels. The project is expected to generate roughly 21,000 megawatt-hours (MWh) during its first year of operation: enough to power about 1,300 homes annually. An average SMECO household uses 1,300 kilowatt-hours (kWh) a month and 15,600 kWh per year.
Origis Energy USA is building a larger facility, Ripley Solar, on 300 acres near La Plata. The 27.5-megawatt solar farm is scheduled to come on line in mid-2019. In its first year of operation, Ripley is expected to generate about 56,600 MWh, enough to power 3,600 homes annually and almost doubling SMECO’s solar capacity. Under the power purchase agreement with Origis, SMECO will buy all of Ripley’s generated energy, capacity, and renewable energy credits for 25 years.
SMECO’s Sustainability Position Paper (PDF) lists our goals and accomplishments for environmental leadership and tracks our progress in conserving energy and purchasing power from renewable sources. Current legislation sets the renewable energy goal for utilities at 25 percent by 2020 and, of that, 2.5 percent must be solar.