The Maryland State Fair will install 7,219 on the roofs of its Cow Palace and another barn building to reduce its dependence on conventional energy production, officials said Tuesday.

The energy demand from the fairgrounds, located in Timonium, will not be entirely met by the solar panels, fair officials said. But the energy produced by the rooftop panels should lower the ground’s electric bills, said Andy Cashman, general manager for the Maryland State Fair.


SolarGaines, a Hunt Valley-based company, will install and maintain the panels. John Hencken, a vice president with SolarGaines, said they were being financed by NextGrid, a California-based renewable energy company. Hencken said the project will provide about 2.6 megawatts of power.

No timeline has been set for when the panels will be installed, but officials said they hope to have the work done in the spring.

There will be no up-front cost to the fairgrounds, Cashman said.

But once the panels are installed, the state fair will have two electric bills — one with its current supplier, BG&E, and one with NextGrid. Cashman said that, since the rate for solar energy is decreasing, the fairgrounds will spend less on energy once the panels are installed, even though it will have to pay two suppliers.

He said it would be premature to guess how much money the fair will save, because energy produced from solar panels can vary depending on weather conditions.

David Gordon, an assistant to Cashman at the state fair, said the solar panel installation is “just a part of our continued effort to become more environmentally friendly as a whole.”

“This is just one of the first steps we’re trying to take to be good environmental stewards on our property,” he said.

Officials with the Maryland State Fair said the organization was also working on lighting replacement with energy-saving LED lights, a stormwater management project and new tree plantings.

Gordon and Cashman said the educational aspect of installing renewable energy was important to them and the organization. There are plans to install at least one kiosk where visitors to the fairgrounds can learn about solar energy and see how much energy is being produced on-site.