volume 67 - issue 8 - August 2017
New solar facility planned for La Plata
SMECO entered into a Power Purchase Agreement with Origis Energy USA to develop a 27.5 MW solar facility to be constructed on Ripley Road in La Plata, Maryland.
The Ripley Solar facility will be developed, owned, and operated by Origis Energy USA and is expected to reach full commercial operation by mid-2019. SMECO has agreed to purchase all generated energy, capacity, and Solar Renewable Energy Credits for the next 25 years, helping the Cooperative fulfill its state-mandated renewable portfolio obligation at the lowest cost to its members.
Pending approval from the Maryland Public Service Commission and local permitting, the solar facility will be located on 300 acres in Charles County. The Origis Energy preliminary design calls for the use of single axis tracking technology and approximately 86,000 thin film solar panel modules. Construction will include building a short transmission line from the solar power site to the nearest substation. The project will create approximately 150 jobs during construction, which is anticipated to start in early 2019.
According to Austin J. Slater, Jr., SMECO’s president and CEO, “We’re looking forward to partnering with Origis Energy on Ripley Solar. The amount of solar energy this project will produce nearly doubles SMECO’s current solar capacity.” Ripley Solar is expected to generate roughly 56,500 megawatt-hours (MWh) during its first year of operation, enough to power about 3,600 homes annually.
Purchasing solar energy is one way SMECO works to fulfill its renewable portfolio obligation, as required by the state, at the lowest costs to its members. Utilities are obligated to purchase 1.15 percent of their load from solar energy resources in 2017; that percentage increases each year until reaching 2.5 percent by 2020. Utilities that don’t purchase the required amount of solar energy must pay a penalty.