September 15, 2015

Report Shows Maryland’s Solar Power Capacity Grew 50 Percent Last Year

Montgomery County’s Solar Permits Tripled from FY14 to FY15

Montgomery County processed an estimated 545 solar permits in FY14, and in FY15 more than 1,582 permits were processed. This represents three times the number of solar permits issued from one year to the next.

A new report from Environment Maryland shows per capita solar power capacity grew 50 percent in Maryland last year. The report states that the growth brings Maryland to 12th in the nation for total solar power capacity per person. Montgomery County Councilmember Roger Berliner, who chairs the Council’s Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy and Environment Committee, joined representatives of Environment Maryland at a news conference on September 3 to reveal the results of the study.

The report, Lighting the Way III: The Top States that Helped Drive America’s Solar Energy Boom in 2014, shows that while every state in the country gets enough sun to meet its energy needs many times over, the states that ranked the highest for solar per capita were those with policies that encourage increasing numbers of homeowners, businesses, communities and utilities to “go solar.”

“Public policy makes a huge difference in driving the solar revolution,” said Berliner, sponsor of dozens of environmental initiatives. “Our state has strong policies and our County has strong policies and those policies are paying big dividends."

“Montgomery County is committed to implementing sustainability practices in new and existing buildings,” said David Dise, director of Montgomery County’s Department of General Services, the County’s lead agency on its initiatives to green its operations. “Clean energy solutions such as solar help us achieve climate protection goals, lower the cost of energy and contribute to the creation of new jobs. This commitment to clean energy is clearly demonstrated by a current project to install photovoltaic systems generating at least six megawatts or enough electricity to power 550 homes. This project coincides with a recent White House initiative promoting the installation of solar energy.”

10 comments:

  1. I beg to differ with the platitudes offered by those quoted in this press release. I doubt the County Government's electric bills are declining; mine certainly are not. I'd encourage every reader to look at your cost of electricity. Having solar does not guarantee lower electric costs or greater reliability. The cost of electricity in this area continues to go up, in part to pay for generation, in part to pay the special taxes that now appear on our bills and amount to about 20% of the cost of electricity, in part to pay natural gas generators and for fuels to spin the generators so that they're available if clouds shadow an area, and let's not forget the tax credits of 30%, accelerated depreciation, and other government grants that taxpayers are paying to subsidize this industry. Who do you think pays for that? Distributed solar is among the least efficient means of producing electricity; that's a fact. Montgomery County would be way ahead on environmental goals and cost savings if it replaced its current lighting with LEDs. A recent study revealed that the amount of energy already saved by LEDs over the past two years is more than was produced by all the wind and solar facilities combined. Its time to think and do the right thing.

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    1. The County has entered into a public-private partnership with a third party who will design, own, operate and the County’s solar projects. The County will purchase the electricity at a significantly lower cost than its other energy supply options.

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  2. What does this actually mean? If somebody has a single penny in the entire State, and somehow three more are brought in, that is a "300% increase!" But it's only three pennies.
    How much are people saving with these installations? How much do they cost? Do they make sense to go through the cost and aggravation?... or should we wait until the technology is improved to actually make sense?

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    1. Many of our residents have taken advantage of new financing and lease opportunities to install solar on their homes and are saving several hundred annually while contributing to a cleaner economy and creating jobs.

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    2. We had Solar City install our Solar panels 3 yrs ago. We have zeroed out our electric bill for about 8-9 months of the year! We do pay the Pepco service fee of $7.99 per month, but often get to $1.90 if Pepco declares Energy Savings Day, since throughout the summer we go pretty negative in kWh use most days. The panels are even more efficient now, but our $22 monthly leasing fee is a lot less than our previous monthly electric bills.

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  3. I was one of those 1582 permits this year, but Pepco would only allow me to put 11 panels on my roof when I could have put 14 to 17 panels. They claimed I didn't use enough electricity (I have energy efficient everything in my house) and didn't want to have to pay me 4 to 6 cents a kilowatt hour for what I might have generated that I didn't need. I think this is unjust and legislation needs to be passed to forbid Pepco from doing this.

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    1. How utilities handle solar generation are regulated by the Maryland Public Service Commission. We consistently advocate for changes to help our residents install more solar.

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    2. Speaking of Pepco... GPC-South (pepco's green power connection) has outright refused to talk to me about $250 they owe me for last year's generation of electricity. I have been trying to contact them by phone, and email for over 4 months to no avail, even having Pepco proper contact them on my behalf. Needless to say, they have not returned my inquiries for months. I am very disappointed in Pepco's apparent "support for green energy" and their complete lack of customer service surrounding it.

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  4. It would be helpful if MoCo would decrease the wait time for solar installation permit approvals, if they're really on-board to increase home solar installations.

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    1. According to our Department of Permitting Service, solar referback permits (repeat design for standard permits) are processed within 1 week. More complex commercial and non—standard residential arrays are completed within 30 days. We encourage applicants to utilize our referback program and will be working with customers to increase the scope of that program.

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