MOUNT AIRY — Carroll County’s 27 ½ acres of solar panels are up and running, and county staff say they are projected to save Carroll residents millions of dollars over the next 20 years.
At the solar array project ribbon-cutting on Tuesday, Nov. 20, Commissioner Dennis Frazier, R-District 3, said although it’s been a long road, he is happy about the progress the county has made in solar energy.
“It took a long time to get here,” he said after the ceremony at Hoods Mill Landfill, where 18 acres of solar modules are now set up. “There were a lot of obstacles. But we overcame them.”
Aside from the solar panels at Hoods Mill, there are also 3 acres at Carroll Community College and 6 ½ acres at the Hampstead Wastewater Treatment Plant. The 8,910 panels at Hoods Mill are estimated to save residents $4.1 million in energy costs over the next 20 years, and in that same time frame the 5,280 in Hampstead are estimated to save them $2.4 million and the 2,563 at Carroll Community College are estimated to save them $1.2 million.
Frazier said the county is also looking at another site, to add an additional 21 acres of solar fields.
“It’s a great step forward as a cost-saving measure,” said Carroll County Director of Public Works Jeff Castonguay, “going green with how we are getting our energy.
“We struggle all the time: Is there enough power on the grid, are we doing enough for the environment,” he said. “It’s a win-win for everybody.”
Plus, Frazier said the company leasing the county the solar panels, PSI International, is taking on the responsibility for the system’s maintenance.
“It doesn’t cost us anything,” he said. “I really like the fact that it costs us no up-front money.”
Public Works Deputy Director Scott Moser said credit goes to the Board of County Commissioners for making it all possible.
“The commissioners were big when they first started with setting up a solar initiative,” he said after the ceremony Tuesday. “They started looking for properties, figuring how we’re going to do it.
“Electricity is getting more and more expensive,” said Moser. “The commissioners let us use the land that’s just sitting here.”
He said in about six months, though, the county will have a better idea of what the numbers look like and what the savings from the solar panels will be.