University of Maryland Turns on Solar Energy Farm

UMES solar panels

The University of Maryland Eastern Shore(UMES) today inaugurated a 2.2-megawatt (MW) solar farm that will meet15 percent of campus electricity needs.

Covering 17 acres of land previously usedfor agricultural research, the 7,800-panel solar array is the “largestconcentration of photovoltaic modules on one site” in all of Maryland,according to the press release. In its first year of operation, it should generate 3.3 million kilowatt hours (kWh) — roughly the equivalent annual demand of 300 typicalAmerican houses.

Like most larger-scale solar installations, the University of Maryland’s 2.2-MW array was completed by way of apower purchase agreement (PPA). SunEdison — a large PPA providerheadquartered in Beltsville, MD — engineered and installed the system at no up-front cost to UMES or the state of Maryland.

According to the terms of theagreement, UMES will in turn purchase the electricity generated by thesystem at a predictable rate and use it to offset the university’sdemand from the electricity grid. Here’s more from a press statement:

Kirwan described the UMES-SunEdisonpartnership as mutually beneficial since the state had no upfrontinvestment.  “Perhaps most importantly, the people of Maryland will reap the enormous benefit of having literally millions of pounds ofpollutants not released into the atmosphere as this power is generated,” Kirwan said.

It bears noting that the University ofMaryland system is no stranger to solar power: earlier this year,University of Maryland College Park announced it would install a bit rooftop solar energy system. It also bears noting that installing solar panels doesn’t only makesense for Maryland schools — homeowners, too, can slash their electricbills by going solar. Maryland residents are aided by a solar energygrant program and a solar renewable energy credit (SREC) program, bothwhich make solar energy financially more attractive. Feel free tocontact us if you’ve got questions about either of these programs.

Handout photo via The Baltimore Sun.

University of Maryland Turns On Big Solar Energy Farm

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