Morgnec Road Solar, LLC on Nov. 30 filed with the Maryland Public Service Commission an application for a certificate of public convenience and necessity authorizing the construction of the nominal 45-MW alternating current (AC) Morgnec Road Solar Project in Kent County, Md.
As noted in the application, the project would be located on two parcels totaling about 253.16 acres of property, and would include accompanying interconnection facilities necessary to interconnect the project to the Chestertown substation.
The project would involve a capital investment of about $80m, Morgnec Road Solar said, adding that construction is estimated to be complete prior to December 2021, subject to permitting restrictions.
The project is not located in an agricultural zoning district, on prime farmland, or in a priority preservation area. Instead, Morgnec Road Solar added, the parcels are zoned as rural residential and community residential districts, and are located close to the Town of Chestertown. The surrounding properties have not been developed for residential purposes and have not remained agricultural, Morgnec Road Solar said, adding that the area along Morgnec Road near the project is a commercial and industrial mix.
The company also said that given the project’s close proximity to an industrial district, the project would be designed in substantial conformance with Kent County Land Use Ordinance Article V, Section 15.2.18, which sets forth Kent County’s requirements for utility scale projects in industrial districts. The project would also be designed in substantial conformance with Kent County site plan, stormwater management, sediment and erosion control, and forest conservation requirements, as well as apply for local non-discretionary permits, including for a grading permit, building permit, and electrical permit.
Morgnec Road Solar said that the project would avoid all wetlands, as well as the critical area and resource conservation area.
The panels would be low to the ground and, where appropriate, screened from view, as well as set back from adjacent properties, the company said. In addition, the project would be surrounded on three sides by heavily wooded areas, providing a significant natural buffer. The company added that the project would use underground cabling to avoid new overhead electrical cabling for purposes of connecting to the point of interconnection.
Morgnec Road Solar also said that if necessary, the project would implement appropriate mitigation measures through a memorandum of understanding with the Maryland Historical Trust that would mitigate any impacts – to the extent any are determined to exist – on the Historic Built Environment and the Stories of the Chesapeake Heritage Area.
The company noted that it has initiated a process to be interconnected with the Delmarva Power & Light electric distribution grid serving Maryland by filing an interconnection request with PJM Interconnection. The project has received queue position AB2-133 from PJM, which has returned the project’s system impact study – the second study in the interconnection process.
The project would connect to the electric distribution grid serving Maryland by interconnecting to the nearby Chestertown substation through a new fifth position on the existing four position ring bus. The company added that the project would also build a new onsite substation to facilitate the interconnection. The installation of protective breaker equipment would allow Delmarva Power to isolate the project during certain contingencies on the grid as necessary.
Among other things, Morgnec Road Solar said that it expects to receive all necessary local and state approvals, as well as engineering documents by December 2019. Construction is anticipated to begin in spring 2021, with completion and operational startup in fall/winter 2021, the company said.
While Maryland law requires the filing of CPCN applications involving a generation station and transmission line designed to carry an excess of 69 kV at least two years prior to the start of construction, the commission has authority to waive that notice requirement upon a showing of good cause, the company said.
Imposing a two-year notice requirement may make sense for certain generating facilities with long and complex transmission lines, but not for the type of project proposed here where impacts would not extend beyond the borders of the site, the company said. The project would interconnect to the Chestertown substation, which is essentially across the street from the project, using underground cabling, the company said, adding, “Requiring a two-year delay of the project to satisfy this requirement would simply delay Maryland receiving the benefits offered by the project without corresponding benefit.”
The company said that it submits that good cause exists to support the waiver of the two-year notice provision and that such a waiver is consistent with commission precedent.