Maryland county's 1st community solar project to go online

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — A Maryland county’s first community solar project, which gives electric customers a chance to access solar energy, is scheduled to launch online this summer.

Residents who do not have solar arrays in Anne Arundel County will be able to use the Checkerspot Community Solar Farm at Tracy’s Landing to get solar energy through a subscription, The Capital Gazette reported Monday.

The community solar pilot program was launched by the state in 2017, and Checkerspot and three other solar projects in the county were subsequently submitted for consideration. The other three are still in the consideration stage.

Checkerspot, a 9.4-acre facility, also supports the habitat of bees and butterflies through pollinator gardens. Eric Partyka, director of business development for solar company Standard Solar, told the newspaper the gardens are something they have in all their solar facilities.

The project comes as Maryland attempts to increase its solar output after adopting a law in 2019 that mandates 50% of the energy the state uses must come from renewable sources. Less than 2% of electricity in the state was generated by solar the year the law was enacted, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

A county plan suggests putting solar panels on landfills and other sites while avoiding farmlands. But Partyka said more planning is necessary to meet the state's targets.

“There has got to be a broader statewide strategy,” he said.