December 16, 2020

Former Oaks Landfill in Gaithersburg Will Serve as Solar Energy Project

Montgomery County will move another step closer toward meeting the ambitious goal of eliminating greenhouse emissions by 2035 with an innovative partnership that will provide reliable clean energy for low-to-moderate income households and County Government. In the partnership, Ameresco, an energy efficiency and renewable energy company, will build three solar arrays on approximately 16 acres of underutilized County-owned land at the former Oaks Landfill at 6010 Riggs Road in Gaithersburg.

The project will be six megawatts (MW) total, divided into three 2 MW arrays, and will generate 11.4 million kilowatt hours annually. Array 1 is for use by the County, and under a power purchase agreement, will provide the County Government with clean, renewable energy at no upfront cost. Arrays 2 and 3, each with two MW, will combine to be a community solar project with 100 percent of the generated electricity going to low-to-moderate income subscribers. Ameresco will finance, design, construct, own and operate all of the facilities.

"This public-private energy-saving initiative prioritizes renewable energy and wisely leverages underutilized public land to benefit a number of County interests,” said County Executive Marc Elrich. “This agreement accelerates our environmental goals, lowers energy costs for hard-working families and places solar panels on brownfields, which should be the priority siting areas. The project provides residents unable to install solar on their own property with an opportunity to directly benefit from a shared solar power source.”

This project is the result of a 2019 Request for Energy Proposals issued by the County. Ameresco’s proposal was selected in large part due to the rate provided for low-to-moderate households, offering a 25 percent discount off the tariff rate to these subscribers. As of Sept. 30, Ameresco has 17 solar photovoltaic landfill projects in operation, with more in development, and has developed more than 230 megawatts of solar photovoltaic projects.

The project will add to the County’s other solar photovoltaic initiatives including microgrids at the County’s Public Safety Headquarters in Gaithersburg and the correctional facility in Clarksburg.

Since taking office, County Executive Elrich has outlined significant priorities to reduce the County’s carbon footprint including prioritizing clean energy, energy efficiency, enhancing building design, reducing waste and developing an improved transit system.

The County’s Department of General Services is implementing initiatives to reduce the environmental impact across all County departments to ensure Montgomery leads by example. Installing solar canopies and rooftop panels on libraries, recreation and aquatics centers, police and fire stations and offices will maximize the generation of clean energy. The department is developing a microgrid to support electric bus charging at the Silver Spring Transit Depot in support of the County’s commitment to convert its fleet to electric vehicles.

To learn more about Montgomery County’s initiatives to green government operations, visit the Department of General Services’ Office of Energy and Sustainability webpage