Decision on 150-MW Maryland solar project likely late this year

A case judge at the Maryland Public Service Commission on July 16 issued a procedural schedule for a 150-MW solar project that calls for a Nov. 13 issuance of a proposed order approving the project if all parties to the proceeding agree to a settlement of any issues, and a Dec. 29 proposed order if there is no settlement.

Under PSC procedures, the commission waits 15 days from the time a proposed order is issued by the case judge, then that decision is declared as final if no protests to it are filed in the meantime. There would be an Oct. 27 evidentiary hearing if a settlement is reached, and a Nov. 13 evidentiary hearing if there is no settlement by that point.

This is a proceeding triggered by a May 11 application from Great Bay Solar I LLC (GBS), a wholly owned subsidiary of Pioneer Green Solar LLC, to develop a photovoltaic (PV) solar facility with a nominally rated capacity of up to 150 MW (ac), which is unusually large for Maryland or any state in the eastern U.S. The company’s May 11 application was for a certificate of public convenience and necessity.

The project will be constructed on up to approximately 1,000 acres of private land currently under lease or purchase option south of Princess Anne in Somerset County, Maryland. It will connect to the PJM Interconnection-operated grid at the existing Kings Creek substation, which is owned by Delmarva Power & Light, which on May 20 filed to intervene in this case.

GBS has a purchase option on the parcel immediately south of the Kings Creek Substation. GBS plans to build its substation on the southern portion of the parcel and connect to the Kings Creek Substation via a short (less than 500 feet) 138-kV generation tie line.

Somerset County is the southern-most county in Maryland. It is bound by the Chesapeake Bay to the south and west, Wicomico County to the north, Worchester County to the east, and the state of Virginia to the southeast.

GBS said in the application that it has already started the preliminary engineering and design, and final design and equipment procurement contracts will be completed by February 2016. Construction of the project, pending regulatory approval, will start as early as March 2016 and will take 6-9 months from initial grading to project energization. The project is scheduled to begin operation by the end of 2016.

Said the application: “The proposed Project represents a significant capital investment in the State and local economy. At the full 150 MW size, the Project is expected to cost more than $225,000,000 to install, representing a significant increase in the Somerset County property tax base.”

In July 6 testimony, Cyrus Tashakkori, a vice president of both Great Bay Solar I and Pioneer Green Solar, said that while this is an unusually large solar project for Maryland, this will be a good way to meet the state’s “aggressive” renewable energy goals. The size of the project will also offer economies of scale in the construction process, Tashakkori added.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.