The Pinesburg Solar LLC project proposed for Washington County, Maryland, got generally positive input in Feb. 4 testimony from two state officials that have reviewed the project company’s September 2015 application for a certificate of public convenience and necessity.
Pinesburg Solar LLC wants to meet an operation target date in summer 2016 for this project, so it is shooting for a March 2016 approval from the Maryland commission. The project would be located on a 165-acre site near the town of Williamsport. Pinesburg Solar is controlled by Community Energy. Community Energy works with several of the nation’s largest energy companies to support the development, provide financing, and/or own and operate its utility-scale solar projects.
Feb. 4 testimony came from Shawn Seaman, Program Manager at the Power Plant Research Program of the state Department of Natural Resources. He noted that the project size during the course of this case has shrunk from the original 8 MW (ac), to 7 MW (ac). The solar array will use a fixed tilt racking system. In addition to the approximately 34,000 solar PV panels, the facility components will also include DC to AC power inverters, medium-voltage transformers, control and distribution cabinets, and other equipment necessary to interconnect to the Potomac Edison distribution system.
Seaman wrote: “Subject to CPCN approval, construction of the Project is anticipated to begin in spring 2016 with completion and operational startup before the end of 2016.”
He said the project site is zoned Environmental Conservation District. However, the company applied to the Washington County Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) and was granted a special exemption for the project. The site primarily contains previously cultivated agricultural fields surrounded by areas of forest cover.
According to the CPCN 16 application, the Maryland Department of the Environment and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have conducted site visits, reviewed the site, and determined that the project area does not contain wetlands. However, Pinesburg Solar has indicated that portions of the project site lie within the 25-foot wide buffer of offsite wetland areas.
The project is located in the Potomac Edison service territory and will connect to the local grid by tapping the Halfway–Marlowe distribution circuit that emanates from the Marlowe Substation.
Seaman suggest several basic conditions, including for minimization of glare from the solar panels, be attached to any approval of the project.
Also filing Feb. 4 testimony was Mikhail Ratushny of the PSC staff. Ratushny also recommended approval of the projects with several basic conditions added, like that an interconnection deal with Potomac Edison be filed with the commission before project construction, or in the alternative a statement from Potomac Edison that no such agreement is needed.