Giant solar project planned for QA’s
MILLINGTON — A Stevensville-based company has plans to construct a massive solar panel project on three tracts of land, totaling 337 acres, on Jones Farm Lane in Queen Anne’s County.
“The project will consist of 205,996 solar panels. These panels produce DC
current which is converted to AC current by inverters. The system provides AC current to the electrical grid,” said Frank Depew, president of Urban Grid Holdings, which owns the project.
The company filed an application with the Maryland Public Service Commission, asking for a certificate of public convenience and necessity to construct the 56.70 megawatt solar facility on the site, near Millington toward the Delaware line.
On Monday, Feb. 13, Depew released an email statement, saying “The project would represent a significant investment in the county, with a capital cost of approximately $105 million, providing significant tax revenue to the local community.”
“We estimate that the project would create approximately 150 to 175 design, management, and construction jobs for personnel working remotely or on the site at the height of construction,” he said.
Construction is expected to start later this year and be completed by December 2018, pending all the approvals needed, according to the application before the Public Ser vice Commission.
Maryland law requires the filing of such applications at least two years prior to the commencement of construction. The company’s application asks the commission to waive the rule.
The project will interconnect to the electric distribution grid serving Maryland via the construction of an onsite substation, said the company’s application.
In the documents filed with the commission, the applicant is listed as Jones Farm Lane Solar LLC, but Urban Grid is the owner. The applicant’s testimony is due before the commission on Feb. 24 and testimony of other parties due on July 10. A public hearing will be held on Aug. 8.
The site with the address of 48 Jones Farm Lane, Millington, is located in an agriculture zoning district. Utility-scale solar generation facilities are permitted in such areas in Queen Anne’s County as a conditional use, said the application.
“The applicant will apply for a special exception for the project from Queen Anne’s County,” said the application.
So far, the county government hasn’t received such a request, but the county has already filed legal paperwork asking the Public Service Commission to consider it a party in the case, according to other documents filed with the commission.
According to Depew, the Urban Grid project will be “ground mounted solar installation, which involves the installation of flat solar panels low to the ground on metal posts. These panels are tracking panels and they will follow the sun throughout the day from east to west, thereby producing the most energy possible.”
“Besides the small post foundations, underlying land will remain pervious and be planted with native, low-lying grass species for maximum environmental stewardship,” Depew said.
According to him, the project would lease the underlying land from a local landowner, who will receive lease revenue throughout the project’s life.
The application says the project is an “alternating current solar photovoltaic facility.” Public Service Commission spokesman Tori Leonard said the phase is a technical term and the project would involve the installation of solar panels.
The project will either sell electricity into the regional electricity market on a competitive basis or sell electricity directly to one or more large electric consumers, Depew said.
“Delmarva Power and Choptank Electric Cooperative will not purchase the electricity directly and Delmarva Power and Choptank Electric Cooperative customers will not pay for any costs associated with the project, including for electricity generated by the project,” he said.
Urban Grid’s affiliates own solar projects that provide Kent County and the town of Denton with solar energy which offsets their use of energy from the electrical grid. In Delaware, Urban Grid also operates facilities for Delaware Technical Community College at the Dover, Georgetown and Wilmington campuses.
In Maryland, Urban Grid owns and operates solar projects for Harford Community College and Allegheny County.