Maryland moves solar forward through streamlined permitting, financing, and deployment

Project Highlight

ASTI Newsletter | August 2014 Edition | By Tyler Espinoza

 

In Maryland, the ASTI team is helping to improve local solar market conditions and increase solar deployment by providing a range of on-the-ground technical assistance activities to communities that cumulatively impact over 32% of the state’s population. From permitting to deployment to financing, the Solar Roadmap cities and counties in Maryland are taking action toward achieving their solar goals in their communities with a comprehensive approach to market transformation and growth.

 

In the greater Washington, D.C. region, Solar Roadmap participants Montgomery County and Prince George’s County have each added to their list of accomplishments related to Goal M3, “Explore Implementation of Collaborative Procurement Program for Municipal Facilities”, with two municipal solar projects underway. Both county governments are no stranger to municipal solar projects, having flipped the “on” switch at two 2 MW solar installations at their respective wastewater facilities this past November.

 

On the permitting side, the ASTI team is working with the Maryland Energy Administration (MEA) at the state level to support their implementation of a standardized online solar permitting system. MEA’s Comprehensive Online Application Portal (COAP) aims to create a cloud-based application that facilitates and expedites the solar permitting and inspection processes in communities across the State. COAP will also centralize the submission of other solar-related applications, including the state’s Clean Energy Grant Program, the utility interconnection, and the Public Service Commission’s solar generating facility registration process, among others. While currently in the design phase, the MEA hopes that this initiative will significantly reduce the time and costs associated with solar installations while encouraging transparency, best practices and process uniformity across participating jurisdictions.

 

In Prince George’s County, Optony is reviewing options and providing technical assistance for solar on County-owned facilities and parking areas in support of their solar deployment goals in line with Solar Roadmap Goal M3. The County’s exploration of their solar potential follows on the heels of a Request For Qualifications issued earlier this year to develop additional brownfield solar PV projects at the Brown Station Road Sanitary Landfill and Sandy Hill Creative Disposal Project Landfill. The key goals of the public-private partnership are to reduce the County’s government energy cost and carbon footprint while demonstrating innovative clean renewable energy solutions that aid in the development of local solar markets.

 

Meanwhile, in Montgomery County, the solicitation for proposals to develop solar PV systems on County facilities has continued with the Department of Transportation’s RFEP in June that looks to install over 5 megawatts (MW) of solar PV on 12 of its multi-level parking garages. The County’s news release indicates that it will be among the first major east coast urban jurisdictions to have solar generation on top of its parking facilities. This RFEP is on the heels of another solicitation by the County’s Department of General Services.

 

In pursuit of innovative financing solutions to help constituents go solar, Montgomery County is establishing a commercial property assessed clean energy (PACE) plan. In May, stakeholders released the Commercial PACE Implementation Plan, which outlines the program and process that will allow commercial properties to make clean energy upgrades to their facilities and repay them via surcharges on their property tax bill. Following the Council’s approval of the Plan, the County will proceed with development of the local law and Executive Regulations as well as solicit private entities to provide program financing and administration, and to serve in a trustee capacity for the remittance of PACE surcharge funds to the lenders.

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