The solar panel project in Carroll County, which was approved in July 2015, is well underway. The project has three locations in the county, and a future fourth planned outside of Carroll.
The project location at Carroll Community College is the furthest along and is set to be completed in July, Scott Moser, deputy director of Carroll's Department of Public Works, said.
The site will have just over 2,500 panels that will produce 0.8 megawatts of solar energy. There will be 7,920 panels for the Hoods Mill location and 5,280 panels for the Hampstead location— enough to save the county some $9 million over the next two decades.
With this project, Moser said, the county will be getting electricity at a lower cost. The county is currently paying just over 11 cents per kilowatt hour, and with this project, it will pay 7.7 cents per kilowatt hour.
It's different than other projects, he added, because the county isn't paying for the project and doesn't own the equipment, Moser said.
"We don't own the solar capital piece of it. All we're doing is buying electric at a reduced rate," he added.
Alan Schuman, executive vice president of administration with the college, said while the school is owned by the county and is on county property, they were excited to be a part of the project.
The county came to the college with the opportunity, Schuman said, and Carroll was favorably inclined to have the panels in its backyard. Plus, the site is used for stormwater management, he added, so nothing else could have gone there anyway.
The community college portion will save the county some $88,000 in electric per year and about $1.5 million over the course of the 20-year contract, Moser said.
In addition to the Carroll Community College site, Moser said there will be solar panels at the Hoods Mill Landfill — 4 megawatts hours per year — and at the Hampstead Wastewater Treatment Plant — 1.6 megawatts hours per year.
The county is hoping for another 7.5 megawatt hours per year on noncounty-owned property, he said. It has to be in Baltimore Gas and Electric territory.
The total project is expected to save about $530,000 in electric per year — roughly $9 million over the 20-year cycle, Moser said.
"We couldn't find any more county property," Moser said. "And to make this a viable project you need a big solar array. We're still looking for that property off site."
At the end of the 20-year contract, Moser said the county can either have the panels removed or purchase them.