With the flip of a giant switch, Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett today symbolically activated 1,248 solar panels on the roof of the County’s Shady Grove Processing Facility and Transfer Station that will generate approximately 350,000 kilowatt hours ( kWh) of electricity in the first year of operation and more than six million kWh over the 20-year life of the project.
In everyday equivalents, the six million kWh produced by the panels will produce enough energy to power 590 average U.S. homes for one year. The panels began producing power in March.
The County paid no upfront capital costs for the solar energy system, thanks to $280,000 in grant funding from the Maryland Energy Administration’s (MEA) Project Sunburst program and a Solar Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with SunEdison of Beltsville. Through the PPA, SunEdison has financed and constructed the array and will operate and maintain the panels.
The County will pay a fixed kWh rate over the 20 years of the agreement, and the energy will be used in the operations of the Transfer Station. The Project Sunburst Grant reduced the costs of the long-term energy rates charged, while supporting the creation of “green dollar” jobs by using American-made products, like the solar modules, to complete the project.
Speaking at the “Flip the Switch” ceremony, Leggett said, “We are proud to be among the jurisdictions from around the state to have been selected for a Project Sunburst grant. Montgomery County is a nationally recognized leader in advancing clean energy and promoting sustainability, and although this may be a small project in the terms of output compared to some of the others, rest assured, it is a big deal for us to be able to do our part to produce clean, renewable energy.”
The Northeast Maryland Waste Disposal Authority (NMWDA), the contract manager of the Transfer Station operations for the County, will purchase and use the energy produced for 20 years. NMWDA is a Regional Government organization whose mission is to plan and develop efficient, reliable waste management systems for its member jurisdictions, including those that provide for energy generation and resource recovery.
Joining Leggett at the announcement were: Director of the Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection Bob Hoyt who emceed the event; MEA Director Malcolm D. Woolf; NMWDA Executive Director Robin Davidov; and Francis Yuhas, SunEdison’s Eastern Regional sales manager.
“SunEdison strives to provide government entities with smart, affordable solar solutions,” Yuhas said. “We are proud of the work we’ve accomplished together with the MEA and Montgomery County and look forward to future opportunities.”
Montgomery County was chosen last April to receive a grant under Project Sunburst, a newly created program that utilizes American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding to promote clean energy on public buildings in Maryland.
According to MEA, Project Sunburst will help 17 state and local government entities reduce long-term costs by investing in much needed clean, renewable energy. These newly installed solar arrays will collectively have a generating capacity of more than nine megawatts, or nearly double the amount of solar capacity that existed on Maryland’s grid at the program’s inception.
“Investing in renewable energy is a triple win for Maryland by creating new green dollar jobs now while reducing electricity bills and protecting the environment over the term,” said MEA’s Director Woolf. “Since Project Sunburst began last year, it has created an estimated 90 jobs, positioned Maryland governments to lower costs through reduced energy bills and added much needed clean, renewable energy generation capacity."
Davidov of NMWDA said, “Montgomery County is a leader in environmental stewardship and resource management. This latest effort, putting solar panels on the roof of a waste transfer station, is further evidence of the County’s innovation. Not only will the energy from these panels offset the burning of coal, but the County is actively managing the rising costs of energy.
I want to acknowledge the assistance and support of Governor O’Malley’s Maryland Energy Administration (MEA) and the Project Sunburst grant,” Davidov said. “This project would not have succeeded without his renewable energy leadership. I’d like to particularly acknowledge Dan Locke, Authority board member from Montgomery County and Malcolm Woolf, director of the MEA.”
For more information on the Maryland Energy Administration and the Sunburst initiative, visit http://energy.maryland.gov/Govt/sunburst.html.
Close up and aerial views of the solar panel array at the Transfer Station may be seen on the Division of Solid Waste Services website at www.montgomerycountymd.gov/solidwaste.
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Acknowledgement: “This material is based upon work supported by the Department of Energy under Award Number DE-EE0000097.”
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