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Landmark Community Solar Initiative Moves Forward In Maryland

Utility regulators in Maryland have voted to advance a set of proposed policies which remove barriers for renewable energy under the state’s new community solar initiative.

According to an Earthjustice press announcement, the Maryland Public Service Commission yesterday proposed draft regulations to guide the state’s three-year community solar pilot project. Here are some of the key policies:

  • 30% of the dedicated community solar capacity will be set aside for low and moderate income projects, ensuring communities of all income levels will have the opportunity to reap the benefits of solar energy
  • Full retail rate credit for subscribed solar energy, ensuring community solar participants receive the same economic benefits as traditional net metering customers
  • Community solar project development will be set aside at brownfield sites, encouraging a positive use of environmentally damaged property
maryland-solar-david-brosch_matt-roth-800

David Brosch stands in front of a 22 kilowatt solar electric array atop the roof of the University Park Church of the Brethren in Maryland on May 4, 2015. The solar panels on top of the church produce an estimated 25% more energy than the church needs per year.

Community solar projects, or solar gardens, expand public access to renewable energy, allowing people to subscribe to solar energy projects, offsetting a portion of their electric bill with their solar credits. Typical projects can be placed in various locations, including apartment building roofs, community centers, churches. or in open fields. More than 50 community renewable energy projects now operate in 17 states.

In 2015, Earthjustice partnered with a coalition of community and solar industry groups to pass bipartisan legislation making the Maryland Community Solar Pilot Project possible. On behalf of Maryland Solar United Neighborhoods (MD SUN), Earthjustice actively participated in the community solar rule-making process and made several recommendations that were ultimately adopted by the Commission.

Susan Stevens Miller, a staff attorney in Earthjustice’ clean energy program, said the policies proposed “will make clean energy solutions available to a greater number of Marylanders and help regulators across the country learn more about the great potential of community solar. Done the right way, community solar projects strengthen communities, clean up our air, speed our transition to 100 percent renewable energy — all while keeping utility bills affordable.”

Earthjustice and MD SUN will remain involved in the process going forward to ensure that the gains achieved by the regulations are reflected in the implementation process.

“Today the Commission put us on the right path to ensuring all Marylanders can benefit from solar energy,” said Corey Ramsden, MD SUN program director.

Image via Earthjustice

 
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Written By

is a writer, producer, and director. Meyers was editor and site director of Green Building Elements, a contributing writer for CleanTechnica, and is founder of Green Streets MediaTrain, a communications connection and eLearning hub. As an independent producer, he's been involved in the development, production and distribution of television and distance learning programs for both the education industry and corporate sector. He also is an avid gardener and loves sustainable innovation.

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