volume 65 - issue 8 - august 2015
New 80-acre solar facility energized
In April, 2014 SMECO entered into a power purchase agreement with an affiliate of juwi solar, Inc. (JSI) to develop, design, and construct the 10.0-megawatt (MW) Rockfish Solar facility. This agreement brought a second major solar facility to Southern Maryland, building on a commitment to harvest renewable energy.
The state of Maryland requires all electric utilities to acquire a certain amount of renewable energy to fulfill their renewable portfolio obligation. Utilities are obligated to purchase 0.5 percent of their load from solar energy resources in 2015 and that percentage increases each year until reaching two percent in 2020. Utilities that don't purchase the required amount of solar energy must pay a penalty.
SMECO is purchasing all generated energy, capacity, and solar renewable energy credits from the Rockfish plant for the next 20 years.
"This project will provide renewable energy right here in our service area, helping us to meet our regulatory requirements and to avoid costly transmission fees," according to Austin J. Slater, Jr., SMECO president and CEO. "Our customer-members will be glad to know that the cost of the energy provided by this solar project is very reasonable and will have a positive effect on customer rates."
JSI broke ground on the 80-acre solar facility located on Renner Road in Waldorf during the first week of January 2015 and it is now energized.
The solar farm will generate 10 MW using single axis tracking technology with 42,240, 310-watt solar panels. The facility is expected to generate roughly 21,000 megawatt-hours during its first year of operation: enough to power about 1,300 homes annually. An average SMECO household uses 1,300 kilowatt-hours per month.
The new plant is expected to produce nearly twice as much energy as the 5.5-MW SMECO Solar facility in Hughesville, which has been operating since November 2012. As of December 2014, that solar farm has produced more than 17 million kWh of energy.
SMECO originally contracted with JSI, the developer of the Rockfish solar facility. JSI subsequently sold the facility to PSEG Solar Source. The now-named PSEG Waldorf Solar Energy Center is the company's eleventh utility scale solar facility.