150-MW Great Bay solar project in Maryland gets good marks from state officials

A 150-MW (ac) solar project planned for Maryland got generally favorable marks on Oct. 14 in testimony filed as part of a Maryland Public Service Commission review of this project.

John Sherwell, Administrator of Atmospheric Sciences for the Power Plant Research Program (PPRP) at the state Department of Natural Resources said in his testimony that the project generally meets environmental, noise and community impact requirements. Accompanying his testimony was a draft environmental report on the project.

Great Bay Solar I LLC is seeking a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN) to construct the Great Bay Solar Project in Somerset County, Maryland. Great Bay Solar I, a wholly owned subsidiary of Pioneer Green Solar LLC, is proposing to develop a solar photovoltaic facility with a nominally rated capacity of up to 150 MW (ac). The project will be constructed on up to approximately 1,000 acres of primarily agricultural private land, currently under lease or purchase option, south of Princess Anne in Somerset County.

The project will connect to the PJM Interconnection grid at the existing Kings Creek substation, which is owned by Delmarva Power and Light. Great Bay has a purchase option on the parcel immediately south of the Kings Creek Substation. It plans to build its substation on the southern portion of the parcel and connect to the Kings Creek Substation via a less than 500 feet, 138-kV generation tie line.

PPRP has recommended two license conditions related to land use: one requiring Great Bay to certify to the PSC and to PPRP that it has designed the facility in substantial conformity to Somerset County’s Site Plan review requirements and has received Site Plan approval by the Somerset County Planning Commission; and another requiring Great Bay to satisfy all applicable state and local permit requirements for occupancy of the abandoned railroad corridor by the project’s collection system.

The environmental report noted that Maryland’s Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard (RPS), enacted in May 2004 and revised in 2007, 2008, and 2010, calls for 20% of the electricity sales in Maryland to be supplied by renewable energy sources by 2022. Two percent of electricity sold must come from solar energy sources by 2020, which corresponds to an estimated 1,200 MW of installed solar capacity required. The 2013 RPS compliance requirement necessitated 136.5 MW, which the state surpassed by reaching 158 MW of installed solar capacity by December 2013.

Also filing Oct. 14 testimony was Ralph De Geeter, representing the PSC staff. He noted that the company has indicated that only about half of the project’s capacity has been contracted so far, with marketing efforts ongoing for the other half. De Geeter suggested that the PSC impose a three-year “window” for the company to start construction of the half of the plant that currently lacks a contract.

De Geeter also said the project’s power sales deal with the General Services Administration may wind up letting the company sell power at retail in deregulated Maryland. He said the company should be ordered to report whether it will make any retail sales. If any retail sales are made, the company should file as a retail power provider in Maryland, he added.

De Geeter noted that project construction could start in March 2016 and be completed six to nine months later. He said the project can help meet the state’s renewable energy goals, and emphasized that there should be assurances that it would won’t cause grid problems for PJM.

Notable is that PJM on July 27 filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission an amended version of an executed Interconnection Service Agreement (ISA) with Great Bay Solar I and Delmarva Power and Light (DPL). The Great Bay Solar ISA supersedes an ISA among PJM, Pioneer Green Solar parent Pioneer Green Energy LLC and DPL, which had an effective date of Oct. 16, 2014. The Great Bay Solar ISA facilitates the interconnection to the PJM system of this 150-MW solar facility located in Somerset County.

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.