Half of Howard County’s Energy Needs to be Powered by Solar Energy - Baltimore Post-ExaminerBaltimore Post-Examiner

Half of Howard County’s Energy Needs to be Powered by Solar Energy

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Solar power generates 33% of Maryland’s electricity making it the second-biggest source of renewable energy. The state ranked 19th in the US for solar installations during the first quarter of 2021. Its recent solar power project, the Howard County Power Purchase Agreement (PPA), is expected to produce 44,000,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity a year. When operational, it will generate adequate power to supply over 50% of the county’s energy requirements.

Solar is Catching Up in Maryland

There are several reasons why going solar is attractive to Marylanders. Given that electricity in the state costs more than 20% compared to the national average, saving money on utility bills is an enticing prospect. Another reason why inhabitants of the state choose renewable power is that they will have control of their energy usage. In addition, Maryland offers great incentives to make the switch. Under the Federal Solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC), those who install home solar systems by December 31, 2022, can take advantage of a 26% federal tax credit.

Based on market value, Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SRECs) are also available allowing customers to use the electricity they produce or sell them. Another solar incentive is a 6% sales tax exemption on purchased home solar systems. On top of these rebates, Marylanders who buy and install a residential solar power system may also qualify for a rebate of $1,000. Businesses are offered discounts as well under the Maryland Commercial Clean Energy Rebate Program.

The Largest Contract Agreement of Its Kind

The Howard PPA is the biggest deal made by the state when it comes to solar power. Under the agreement, CI Renewables will build, operate, and maintain solar panels on both public and private land at no cost to the government. Solar arrays will be installed on rooftops, carports, libraries, police stations, fire stations, landfills, and privately-owned farms. The generated power will be sold to the country at a per kilowatt-hour rate. Under the PPA, there are 11 separate solar projects. It is estimated that the project is the equivalent of removing more than 6,700 cars off the streets each year.

According to Congressman Sarbanes of the House Environment and Climate Change Subcommittee, the project is an important step in expanding the state’s clean energy capacity. It will also reduce carbon emissions, fight climate change, and preserve environmental treasures such as the Chesapeake Bay. The Director of the Maryland Energy Administration also said that the county is offering a great example of solar systems installed at multiple facilities working with communities to identify the best sites. Furthermore, CEO of CI Renewables Alan Epstein, announced that the public/private partnership will see solar projects built on county and private sites that will, in turn, result in long-term energy savings for the county without any capital investment from the administrative government.

The county’s solar energy project can become a role model for local governments across the state. It also resonates with the goals of Maryland to use clean energy by powering 50% of its grid with renewable electricity by 2030.


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