Business, Politics, Sci-Tech

Olszewski sets new goal for 100 percent renewable energy by 2026, Baltimore County announces new SunPower solar projects

TOWSON, MD—Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski on Wednesday announced a new project with SunPower Corp. to install solar panel arrays at two closed County landfills, which are expected to generate the equivalent of 35 percent of the electricity demand of the County’s buildings and facilities—putting the County on track to exceed current renewable energy goals.

As a result, Olszewski on Wednesday signed a new Executive Order setting an aggressive new goal to generate or displace the equivalent of 100 percent of Baltimore County’s electric demand with renewable energy sources by 2026 and the equivalent of 125 percent by 2030.

“We’re proud to be taking a bold step forward to ensure Baltimore County remains a statewide leader in renewable energy and helps build a greener and cleaner future for our communities,” Olszewski said. “Climate change poses one of the most significant threats to our long-term health and prosperity. That is why we are thankful for this partnership with SunPower to transform these sites into productive alternative energy sources, further reducing Baltimore County’s carbon footprint and helping us meet our renewable energy goals.”

The first large-scale solar energy projects in Baltimore County’s history, these solar panel arrays will be financed, installed, and maintained by SunPower and its financiers at the closed Hernwood landfill site in Woodstock and the closed Parkton landfill site.

Under power purchase agreements (PPAs), the County will pay $0 upfront while SunPower and its financiers cover the cost of the arrays. Through Maryland’s “aggregate net metering” rule, Baltimore Gas & Electric will credit the solar generated at the landfills against electric loads at other County buildings. Over the next 25 years, the County will pay a flat, fixed rate per kilowatt-hour (kWh) for the solar generation, which is expected to save the County millions of dollars in electricity costs.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) greenhouse gas calculator, the 43 million kWh generated annually by the projects will sequester the same amount of planet-warming carbon dioxide as 40,000 acres of U.S. forests – nearly the size of Washington, DC.

“Electricity savings from solar can help municipalities invest more money into our schools, parks and community centers. We applaud Baltimore County for transforming otherwise under-utilized land into productive solar parks, enabling them to achieve their ambitious sustainability goals while significantly improving the County’s budget,” said Eric Potts, Executive Vice President for Commercial Direct at SunPower.

The projects now will enter the design and permitting phase, with construction expected to begin in 2022 and to be fully operational by 2023.

New Executive Order Sets 100 Percent Renewable Energy Goal by 2026

Olszewski on Wednesday also signed an Executive Order setting an aggressive new goal to generate or displace 100 percent of Baltimore County’s electric demand with renewable energy sources by 2026 and 125 percent by 2030.

In 2016, the prior administration announced a goal to generate or displace at least 20 percent of the County’s electric demand from renewable energy sources by 2022. As of December 2018, little progress had been made to meet this target.

Since taking office, the Olszewski administration has made the expansion of renewable energy a priority including launching a landfill gas-to-energy system to capture methane and generate renewable energy last year. Through the SunPower project announced on Wednesday and the existing landfill gas-to-energy system, Baltimore County is now expected to exceed the current 2022 goal.

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