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New community solar farm near Union Bridge will be up and running in the next few weeks

A new community solar farm near Union Bridge will soon be operational, serving more than 200 local subscribers, including 30% with low to moderate incomes.

The Shepherd’s Mill Community Solar Project, developed by Standard Solar Inc., consists of 7,200 solar panels on nearly 48 acres of land within an unincorporated area in western Carroll County.

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During a tour Thursday for state and local leaders and the media, C.J. Colavito, vice president of engineering for Standard Solar, said the site will be “up and running” within the next couple of weeks.

“We’re really proud of this,” he said. “Anyone in the utility territory of Potomac Edison is eligible to subscribe.”

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Carroll Commissioner Eric Bouchat, a Republican representing District 4, said during the tour that he’s grateful that Union Bridge is getting the option of this unique energy source.

Colavito said community solar provides an energy alternative to residents who otherwise wouldn’t have that option, such as renters, who cannot put solar panels on a home they don’t own.

“It really opens up those doors,” he said.

Eligible residents can subscribe a year at a time with no upfront payment. A typical energy user could realize estimated annual savings of $85.50, according the website of Solar United Neighbors, a nonprofit representing the interests of solar owners and supporters.

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Standard Solar says the project is fully subscribed.

In addition to providing a cost savings, the solar farm can offset CO2 emissions from 515 homes’ electricity use for one year, according to Standard Solar. U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin said utilizing solar energy is just one way communities can help mitigate climate change, and that effort “is an urgent issue.”

“What you’re doing here will make a big difference on our global health,” said Cardin, a Maryland Democrat.

The senator noted that while between 3% and 5% of the state’s electricity is produced by solar, the new community solar farm is a step toward Maryland’s goal of having 50% of its energy come from renewable sources by 2030, with a minimum of 14.5% from solar power.

“Failure to take action is costing us every day,” said Sen. Chris Van Hollen, a Maryland Democrat. “Today we can focus on the benefits of doing something.”

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