Carroll County first county to receive SolSmart silver designation, EAC delivers solar report
By Jennifer Turiano
Carroll County Times|
Nov 02, 2018 | 12:50 PM
Carroll County has become the first county in Maryland to be designated “SolSmart Silver” for advancing solar energy growth, the Environmental Advisory Council told the Board of County Commissioners this week.
The EAC also delivered a report on Community Solar Energy Generating Systems, CSEGS, in the county and provided informational materials for anyone interested in not only having their own solar panels, but subscribing to solar energy in other jurisdictions.
“This [silver] designation recognizes Carroll County for taking bold steps to encourage solar energy growth and remove obstacles to solar development,” states a county release. “For companies looking to expand, a SolSmart Silver designation is a signal that Carroll County is ‘open for solar business.’ ”
SolSmart is led by The Solar Foundation and the International City/County Management Association (ICMA) and funded by the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office. More than 200 cities, counties, and small towns have achieved SolSmart designation since the program launched in 2016.
“The main areas we’ve been able to get this are with permits, inspections, zoning, and EAC work — particularly our guide to solar energy,” said EAC secretary Brenda Dinne Thursday.
In addition to the guide, the EAC now has a community solar report available.
It includes information on current regulations at the county, state and national levels regarding community solar so the BOCC can later decide if they’d like to take further action in expanding the program.
“Subscribers to the energy provided by [a community solar] facility, they get the benefits without having to install it on their property,” said EAC member Jesse Drummond, “and it credits the value of that energy toward their bill.
“A business or nonprofit could open up subscribers to their patrons or the local community,” Drummond said. “There’s tax incentives for the owner of the facility for the county see an increase in solar jobs — the opportunity for lessening our dependence on fossil fuels, carbon footprint, increase environmental stewardship.”
He also said that residents can subscribe to community solar facilities outside Carroll County as long as it is within the Baltimore Gas & Electric service area.
“Currently they’re able to subscribe to a facility built anywhere in the service territory,” Drummond said. “They don't have to be built in Carroll County, a resident could subscribe to one in Baltimore County.
“But I think we do want to look at how to access building these in Carroll County, not just subscribing,” he said.
The report now lies in the hands of the commissioners, who can choose to act on the information or leave it for the next board coming in 2019.