Editorial: Union Bridge officials should support solar project

Union Bridge officials should strongly consider drafting a letter in support of a project to bring a solar field to Carroll County.

Citizens UB Solar LLC, a nonprofit energy company, owns roughly 50 acres of land along Main, W. Locust and S. Whyte streets in Union Bridge, across from the Lehigh Cement plant and bordering the line with Frederick County. It wants to turn that land into a solar field, potentially striking a deal with Lehigh to provide the facility with power.


But the project stands to greatly benefit the small town of Union Bridge.

A solar field would be a minimally disruptive project after the panels are initially installed. Construction of the field would take a few months, but with a roughly 3- to 5-week period when poles for the framework of the fixed-tilt panels would be placed in the ground when construction noise would exist. Once built, plans call for electrical inverters to be positioned a sufficient distance from the property line, as well as landscape buffers, to meet or exceed noise regulations.

That construction is expected to bring a few local jobs as well. In the presentation to Union Bridge residents and officials, the company said it would hire a general contractor that would recruit local labor for approximately 50 construction jobs at its peak. There would also be some long-term job opportunities for landscape management and electrical maintenance.

Union Bridge would begin to collect personal property taxes for the panels once constructed, bringing a much-needed revenue source for local government there. Beyond that, the company also discussed the possibility of gifting 5 acres of land for the expansion of the town’s wastewater treatment plan, something Mayor Perry Jones said was “desperately needed” to have water and sewer resources for future development projects.

For the project to move forward, Citizens UB Solar must get approval from the state’s Public Service Commission through a public hearing process. If approved, construction could begin in about a year. As part of that approval process, the PSC considers the opinion of the local jurisdiction’s government as well as whether it would be in conflict with the town’s comprehensive plan and zoning.

Portions of the land where the company plans to build the solar array is already zoned industrial and allow for the project. Some zoning or master plan changes would be need to be approved by the town’s zoning board for the project to move forward as well.

Town officials can draft a letter of approval or conduct a series of public hearings to solicit feedback and send that on to the PSC. Even if feedback is largely positive and the project were to get a thumbs-up from the town, there would still be a public hearing process through the PSC where residents could weigh in before a permit would be issued.

We see a lot of upside for the town in this project, and hope officials and residents feel the same way. We would encourage officials to draft a letter of approval to get things moving.

To learn more about the project, visit Union Bridge’s website at, and click the link for Solar Facility Presentation.