July 27, 2017

Montgomery’s Newest and Largest Solar Panel Project Unveiled at the County’s Correctional Facility


County Executive Ike Leggett unveiled the County’s largest solar project to date at the County’s Correctional Facility in early July. With more than 2,600 solar panels the complex can operate independently from the power grid in an emergency loss of electricity.

The project is expected to produce 3.5 million kilowatt hours of electricity each year, enough to provide more than 60 percent of the electricity used by the facility. By the end of 2018, solar projects on County property are expected to generate enough electricity to power more than 1,000 single-family homes and reduce greenhouse gas emissions as much as planting 200,000 trees each year, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Designed with a 20-year, power purchase agreement at a low, fixed cost, these solar projects give the County independence from the rising cost of electricity.

3 comments:

  1. "Is expected"? When will we know exactly how much it produces?
    With the savings of "more than 60 percent" of the energy used to run that very facility, when will it be paid for?
    If it will not even produce enough electricity for itself, what will the benefit of this facility for the County?
    I'd appreciate some clarification, as I receive calls and electronic requests to install such panels for my home, but they cannot or will not explain where will I see the benefits of such installation.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you for your interest in Montgomery County’s solar projects.
      The project described in this Paperless Airplane article is part of a larger initiative to install solar wherever feasible on County-owned property.
      Our Department of General Services staff addressed your specific questions about the benefits of solar to Montgomery County government below. This article may help with your questions about solar benefits and options for you as a homeowner. Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection’s My Green Montgomery site has a great article by a County resident who examines the options available to residents interested in solar. https://mygreenmontgomery.org/2016/solar-right-one-resident-examines-options/.
      Solar has many benefits. First, it is clean energy that reduces pollution including greenhouse gas emissions. Solar installed on the roof and grounds of the Montgomery County Correctional Facility generates clean energy that is used to power the lights and appliances at the Correctional Facility. By generating more than 60 percent of the electricity used to run the Montgomery County Correctional Facility, the solar panels reduce greenhouse gas emissions from County government operations as much as taking 527 cars off the road.
      The solar panels at the Montgomery County Correctional Facility are a public-private partnership. The private contractor installs, owns, and maintains the panels. The County has no upfront costs for installing or maintaining them. The County then purchases electricity from the private contractor at a lower cost than it would pay to the electric utility. At the Correctional Facility, the County saves 7.2 cents per kilowatt hour by buying the electricity from the solar contractor to add up a savings of $255,700 per year.
      By installing solar panels, the County also supports local green businesses and helps create new jobs across the supply chain. The solar projects also reduce demand on the utility grid, which means fewer brownouts and blackouts for County residents and businesses during periods of peak electricity demand.
      You also asked about the use of “is expected” when we discuss electricity generation. We use that term because the panels were just completed and connected in the past month, so we do not yet have actual numbers for electricity generation. The expected numbers are based on calculations by our experienced solar contractor. In other solar projects completed by this contractor over the past year, we have found that actual numbers track very closely with the estimates. There can be variations – some projects have yielded slightly more electricity than expected in the first year while others have yielded slightly less. Although we are very confident that the expected numbers will be very close to the actual numbers, we use the term “is expected” to indicate that the number is based on an estimate. We will track and report on the exact generation as billing information becomes available. In addition, the County provides real time energy generation information for its completed solar projects online at http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/dgs-oes/SolarProjects.html. You can see a map of all the County’s solar projects and see details about each one including the number of panels installed, the annual energy generation, the greenhouse gas emissions reduction benefits, and real time energy generation for the day, week, month, and year. A few of the more recently completed projects, including the one at the Correctional Facility, do not yet have the real-time energy generation available, but we are working on that and should have that available for all the projects within the next few months.
      More info at http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/dgs-oes/ about the County’s solar projects as well as other County efforts to green government operations. Let us know if you have any other questions.

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  2. The Solar Power is considered as the new energy for us and it is green power for the environment. We should encourage more people using it in the life.

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