Maryland’s legislature passed a bill allowing community solar projects in the state to take off in 2015. However, it’s taken until Feb. 15 this year for the legal thicket of regulations to be resolved. Now community solar advocates and companies are praising the newly finalized, 200-megawatt (MW), three year pilot program.
“The Maryland Public Service Commission, staff and a wide array of stakeholders have devoted tremendous effort to working through the details to ensure a smooth rollout of this community solar pilot program. We appreciate their time and collaboration to seek consensus on a number of important issues,” stated Coalition for Community Solar Access (CCSA) Executive Director Jeff Cramer. “CCSA industry members are ready to get to work building projects and expanding access to solar for all in Maryland. With today’s commission decision, we believe Maryland is now positioned to become one of the top five community solar markets in the nation.”
Indeed, the pilot will be a big leap for the state as community solar projects are starting to gain traction across the US as an alternative to rooftop solar power. Last year, for instance, saw an explosion of new community solar projects. In 2015, the US installed 52 MWs of community solar, in 2016 it jumped to 218 MWs and, according to GTM Research’s recent U.S. Community Solar Outlook 2017, could grow to 410 MWs this year.
The commission’s final rules approval are means that utilities in the state have 15 days to file their community solar tariffs, according to Solar Industry Magazine’s Joseph Bebon. After that the commission staff was instructed to implement the program’s start date as soon as feasible.
“Community solar provides an important opportunity for residents and businesses who are not in a position to install solar panels onsite to do so through a collective option. Today’s decision means thousands of homeowners, renters, schools and businesses in Maryland are now able to go solar and save money on their energy bills,” said Adam Capage, vice president of Community Solar at 3Degrees.
“Every day we hear from customers around the country that are interested in community solar. Now, Marylanders will have the opportunity to support local community solar and we look forward to helping make that possible.”
The 200 MW pilot program will include 60 MWs of solar farm access intended specifically for low- and middle-income residents in the state. It also includes specific levels of new solar farms for each year under the program.
“Maryland’s new community solar program offers a big opportunity to expand the solar market, bringing clean energy, jobs and solar savings to Maryland residents. More solar means cleaner air, healthier lungs, a greener world. We’re very excited to do business in Maryland,” Tom Matzzie, CEO of CleanChoice Energy.Tweet