A Maryland Public Service Commission public utility law judge, in a March 15 proposed order, said that subject to certain conditions, approval of a 202-MW alternating current (AC) solar photovoltaic (PV) generating facility in Caroline County, Md., is in the public interest.
Cherrywood Solar, LLC’s “compliance with the final license conditions will result in the project satisfying the federal and state environmental laws and the county’s zoning ordinances governing utility-scale solar arrays located in the county,” the utility law judge said.
As noted in the proposed order, Cherrywood Solar in January 2018 filed with the commission an application for a certificate of public convenience and necessity (CPCN), seeking authorization for the construction of the Cherrywood Solar Project in Caroline County, Md.
Cherrywood Solar seeks a CPCN to build the facility on 18 parcels, with four additional parcels proposed to accommodate connector lines. The utility law judge added that all parcels proposed to be used for the project are located in the vicinity of the towns of Greensboro and Goldsboro, with six parcels located north of the intersection of Sandtown Road and Jackson Lane, three parcels located north of the intersection of Bridgetown Road and Wharton Road, and seven parcels located along Greensboro Road, from Bridgetown Road to North Main Street.
According to the application, the project would cost up to $200m, and would interconnect with the PJM Interconnection system through a new three-breaker 230-kV ring bus substation to be built adjacent to the Keeney-Steele 230-kV line.
The utility law judge also noted that Cherrywood Solar has accepted the licensing conditions as recommended by the PPRP and commission staff.
Discussing economic matters, the utility law judge said that according to the company, the project would provide some measureable offsets to the approximate 41% of generation power imported into Maryland. The company said that with the reduction in reliance on imported power and given the nature of solar power generation, the project would lead to reduced and more certain costs of electricity produced. The utility law judge added that the company also represented that the project would increase the state’s current solar electricity output and assist Maryland in reaching its renewable portfolio standard (RPS) goals.
On esthetics, the utility law judge said that the PPRP determined, for instance, that the project would not create any new sources of substantial light disturbance as long as Cherrywood Solar complies with the county’s lighting requirements. The PPRP undertook its own analysis regarding the issue of glare that may result from the solar panels, the utility law judge said, adding that for the single-axis tracking panels, the PPRP determined that in “no case is glare cast upon any observation point.” The PPRP recommended, for instance, a condition requiring the company to develop a process to document and address complaints related to potential solar reflections.
“Subject to the PPRP conditions related to visual impacts …, I find that the project will not have a significant adverse visual impact on the adjacent and surrounding properties,” the utility law judge said.
Discussing historic sites, the utility law judge said that the PPRP recommended certain conditions in the event that relics or unforeseen archaeological sites are revealed and identified during construction. Under those conditions, Cherrywood Solar must consult with the Maryland Historic Trust (MHT) and have a plan for avoidance and protection, data recovery, or destruction without recovery of such relics or sites approved by the MHT.
Subject to those conditions, “I find that the project will have no adverse effect on historic properties or cultural resources on or within one mile of the project site,” the utility law judge said.
Among other things, the utility law judge said that the proposed order will become a final order of the commission on April 16 unless before that date an appeal is noted with the commission by any party to the proceeding, or the commission modifies or reverses the proposed order or initiates further proceedings in the matter.