Maryland’s largest solar array now operating

A 16-MW solar installation in Maryland is now operating as part of the state’s Generating Clean Horizons initiative. The Constellation Energy array is located in Emmitsburg, Md., with the state as its customer.

Constellation, a competitive retail unit of Exelon Corp., (NYSE: EXC), owns and operates the approximately $50m solar facility. Electricity generated by the system is purchased by the state’s Department of General Services and the University System of Maryland under 20-year solar power purchase agreements.

“Solar energy means Maryland jobs. In just five years, we’ve put 530 times more solar on the grid, and we’ve put 2,000 men and women to work in solar sector jobs,” said Gov. Martin O’Malley during a dedication for the solar installation, located at Mount St. Mary’s University. “With partners like Constellation, we will continue to make investments in innovative technologies that create jobs and allow us to strike a better and more sustainable future for our children.”

The ground-mounted solar power plant was constructed by First Solar, using approximately 220,000 of its advanced thin film PV panels situated on 100 acres of land leased by Constellation from Mount St. Mary’s. In addition to the 16-MW system, Constellation developed a 1.6-MW solar power system on the site that will supply power directly to the university.

Maryland Energy Administration in February 2009 partnered with the University System of Maryland and the Department of General Services to award four renewable energy projects under the Generating Clean Horizons program. The initiative was intended to spur the development of large-scale, commercial renewable energy projects, and the state issued requests for proposals for long-term power purchase agreements from renewable sources delivering clean power to the grid by 2014.

Constellation currently owns and operates more than 112 MW of solar installations that have been completed or are under construction for commercial and government customers throughout the United States. In Maryland, Constellation has developed nearly 25 MW of solar projects for customers, including Anne Arundel County, Coppin State University, General Motors, Maryland Science Center and McCormick & Co.

The deals are structured as power purchase agreements or service agreements, which require no up-front capital from Constellation customers.