Maryland Dept. Of Environment Rejects Pair Of Solar Projects

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Citing water quality concerns, the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) has denied the approval of two Origis Energy solar projects in Charles County.

MDE is denying MD Solar 1 LLC’s non-tidal wetlands and waterways application for the Shugart Valley solar project. MDE claims the applicant failed to document and demonstrate that a serious effort was made to avoid, minimize and mitigate or otherwise offset effects on water quality. Additionally, MDE does not consider the economic or social benefits of the proposed project to justify any decrease in water quality.

MDE also determined that MD Solar 2 LLC has not satisfied conditions relating to the protection of Tier II high-quality waters in the Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity issued by the Public Service Commission for the Ripley Solar project. As with the Shugart Valley project, MDE does not consider the economic or social benefits of the proposed project to justify any decrease in water quality.

“While Maryland strongly supports the increased use of clean and renewable energy sources, these two proposed projects would harm the nearby high-quality stream in Charles County and threaten our continued restoration progress in the Chesapeake Bay watershed,” says Ben Grumbles, Maryland’s environment secretary. “This is an unacceptable trade-off for the environmental benefits of clean energy. Maryland will continue to be a leader on clean and renewable energy that makes sense for our local communities and environment.”

As part of the permit review process for the MD Solar 1 application for the Shugart Valley project, MDE provided an opportunity for public comment, including holding informational hearings in February and May.

In 2017, Origis Energy secured a power purchase agreement (PPA) to develop the 32.5 MW AC Shugart Valley project for Washington, D.C.-based Georgetown University. The facility was expected to generate approximately 75,000 MWh of power each year and provide nearly half of Georgetown’s electricity load.

Also in 2017, Origis Energy announced a PPA with Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative for the 27.5 MW AC Ripley Solar project.

Photo: David Benbennick [Public domain]

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