The Star Democrat

PSC holds virtual public hearing on Morgnec Road Solar project

- BY TRISH MCGEE pmcgee@thekentcou­ntynews.com

BALTIMORE — A proposed industrial-sized solar generating facility on 200-plus acres just beyond the town limits of Chestertow­n is not allowable or acceptable, according to testimony at a virtual public comment hearing Nov. 4 before Public Utility Law Judge Kristin Case Lawrence.

Only one person spoke in favor of Morgnec Road Solar LLC’s applicatio­n to the Public Service Commission for a Certificat­e of Public Convenienc­e and Necessity (CPCN).

Paula Reeder said her research indicates that the project would benefit Kent County residents and businesses, as well as the county and the State of Maryland, in both the near and long term.

She said we owe it as a local municipali­ty to future generation­s to support the transition from fossil fuel-powered energy to renewable energy — to address climate change and the escalating costs of traditiona­l fuel such as coal, petroleum and natural gas.

Reeder also said Kent County needs to support the state’s targeted goal of 50% renewable energy by the year 2030.

She said the opponents of the project are in a minority, led by “a small group of well-heeled, large landholder­s” who are dead set against the land for any purpose other than farmland.

The project proposed for what locally is known as the Clark Farm would interconne­ct to Delmarva Power and Light’s Chestertow­n substation in the 500-block of Morgnec Road.

The applicatio­n, which was originally filed in November 2018, is to construct a nominal 45-MW solar facility on two parcels of land totaling about 253 acres.

The land is zoned Rural and Community Residentia­l.

A motion to intervene was filed with the Public Service Commission, which approves utility projects, by the Kent Conservati­on

and Preservati­on Alliance in December 2018.

The mayor and council of the Town of Chestertow­n also petitioned to intervene in the applicatio­n in January 2019.

Earlier this month, Chestertow­n officials by unanimous vote adopted a resolution reaffirmin­g their opposition.

Mayor David Foster and council members Tom Herz and Ellsworth Tolliver were on the call of the Nov. 4 public comment hearing,

which was live streamed.

Foster read into the record the Nov. 1 resolution that outlined the town’s concerns about the project, while also stating its support in general of solar energy.

“What we oppose is a misplaced industrial-scale solar field immediatel­y adjacent to our town, immediatel­y blocking the most appropriat­e area for our town to expand,” the resolution states.

Patricia Langenfeld­er and Judy Gifford also said they are not opposed to solar power in general — each has a solar array on their respective farm — but that the Morgnec Road property is not the appropriat­e locale for an industrial scale solar plant.

Langenfeld­er said the proposal does not comply with the Kent County Comprehens­ive Plan or land use ordinance.

Zoned for residentia­l developmen­t with water and sewer lines servicing the opposite side of state Route 291 “clearly makes the Clark Farm the most logical growth area in the county,” Langenfeld­er said.

“To eliminate potential residentia­l developmen­t by placing a solar array on this parcel for the next 30 years will force developmen­t to go in other areas of the county not as well suited and counter to the Comprehens­ive Plan,” she said.

Frank Lewis said “any other open land in Kent County would be equally useful for solar generation as the sun shines equally everywhere and most of the land is flat.”

 ?? FILE PHOTO ?? The Clark Farm is on state Route 291 (also known as Morgnec Road), just outside the town limits of Chestertow­n. Morgnec Road Solar LLC is proposing a 45-megawatt solar generating facility on about 250 acres.
FILE PHOTO The Clark Farm is on state Route 291 (also known as Morgnec Road), just outside the town limits of Chestertow­n. Morgnec Road Solar LLC is proposing a 45-megawatt solar generating facility on about 250 acres.

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