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Maryland officials schedule hearing on Georgetown solar farm that would clear-cut Charles County forest

Opponents of a Georgetown University solar farm that would clear more than 200 acres of Charles County forest will get a chance to air their concerns at a hearing Maryland environmental regulators have scheduled for Feb. 27.

The Maryland Department of the Environment called the hearing after Southern Maryland residents and environmentalists began protesting the 32.5-megawatt solar array to be built on 537 acres near La Plata. They say the site is improper because it’s in a large area of undisturbed forest, deemed an “important bird area” by the Audubon Society.

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State officials initially scheduled the hearing for Feb. 14, but rescheduled it amid complaints that turnout might be low on Valentine’s Day.

Miami-based Origis Energy USA is building the 100,000-panel solar farm for Georgetown in a forested area of Charles County known as the Nanjemoy peninsula. The company said it chose the site, in part, to avoid controversies that have developed in other parts of the state when solar farms have been proposed on top of active farmland.

Georgetown announced the project in 2017 as part of a commitment to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by half.

Several state agencies, including the environment department, already signed off on the project as the Maryland Public Service Commission reviewed it last year. But now, environmental regulators are taking a closer look because the project needs a permit to build around streams and wetlands.

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