Montgomery County Partners with SolarCity on Energy Initiative (VIDEO)

Solar PanelsMontgomery County Executive Ike Leggett has announced the County’s largest solar initiative ever.

According to a news release, the solar initiative with SolarCity encompasses 14 individual projects and is expected to produce approximately six million kilowatt-hours each year – enough to power nearly 600 average size homes. According to a county news release, Montgomery County will realize significant savings from the move to clean solar, with combined project savings expected to be approximately $11 million dollars over the next 20 years.

The first phase of the project, competitively awarded to SolarCity, will include the installation of solar panels on libraries, recreation centers, correctional facilities, Department of Environmental Protection Solid Waste Services’ sites and other County buildings, grounds and parking lots. To expand the amount of clean energy installed in Montgomery County and the State of Maryland, the County government will host more than five and a half megawatts (MW) of solar on County buildings and facilities. The systems will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 4,200 metric tons annually, the equivalent of taking 870 cars off the road or planting 100,000 trees. Additional projects are currently being identified. The Department of General Services (DGS) plans to work with departments to create programming to educate future green technology professionals about the benefits of renewable energy.

The Jane Lawton Community Recreation Center Project is one of the County’s first photovoltaic projects. The system is 40 kilowatts (kW) in capacity and will generate over 50,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh’s) a year.

“Montgomery County’s commitment to clean energy has positioned our community as a long-term leader both in the State and nationally,” said Leggett. “Montgomery County’s Solar and Advanced Energy Initiative is part of an effort to drive green job creation, improve community resilience to changing climate, and reduce global greenhouse gas emissions. Businesses like SolarCity are helping the County meet its climate protection and job creation goals by deploying clean energy in homes and businesses across the County.”

County Councilmember Roger Berliner, chair of the Council’s Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy and Environment Committee, said the initiative is a result of legislation that he sponsored. Renewable energy is the future, Berliner said.

Under the agreement with the County, SolarCity will design, finance, own and operate the projects hosted on County facilities. The County has agreed to purchase the power for 20 years. On average, the County will pay less than half of what it would ordinarily pay for electricity at a fixed price for the life of the contract.

“Incorporating clean energy technologies into County facilities is a top priority for the DGS Office of Energy and Sustainability, and we are continuing to identify additional projects,” said DGS Director David Dise. “We carefully timed this project to take advantage of reductions in solar project costs to provide the most comprehensive project possible and largest savings to the County. This effort is part of DGS’s overall commitment to lead by example and reduce the environmental impact of County operations.”

“Montgomery County Recreation is delighted to have its facility, the Jane Lawton Community Recreation Center, designated as the site for the first phase of the County’s photovoltaic project installation,” said Montgomery County Recreation Director Gabe Albornoz.

SolarCity recently expanded its Maryland presence with a new 11,000 square foot operations center in Clarksburg – its fourth location in the state. This latest expansion pushes SolarCity’s total Maryland staffing to more than 700 people.

The County is also evaluating other sources of clean and local generation for its portfolio, including microturbines, small efficient generators that produce heat and electricity efficiently. Several facilities are also being evaluated for their potential as microgrids. Microgrids combine solar and other sources of generation with efficiency and advanced controls to ensure uninterrupted power delivery to critical facilities.

To track the progress of the County’s latest solar and advanced energy initiative, visit the interactive map on the Office of Energy and Sustainability’s website, here.

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