HAGERSTOWN — Work can begin on a large solar-panel farm in Washington County after state approval for the project became official this week.
No one appealed last month’s preliminary ruling by state Hearing Examiner Dennis Sober, so his order is final, according to a Maryland Public Service Commission memorandum dated Tuesday.
Maryland Solar LLC probably will start building by the end of the year, D. Bruce Poole, an attorney representing the company, said Tuesday.
Maryland Solar plans to place at least 100,000 photovoltaic cells on a state prison complex south of Hagerstown.
The $70 million project, at peak, is expected to generate about 20 megawatts, which would roughly double the solar power now on Maryland’s grid.
Maryland Solar has been working to beat a deadline. The project will be eligible for more than $20 million in federal energy incentives only if construction starts by the end of this year.
The project could be finished by the middle of next year, Poole said.
The Maryland Board of Public Works approved a 20-year lease agreement in July. Maryland Solar will pay the state $32,050 per year to use 250 acres, or $128 an acre. The rent will rise 3 percent in the fourth year and every other year after that.
The company can sublease some of the land to a farm that used it until the solar project came along.
Sober accepted uncontested evidence in the case during a proceeding in Baltimore in August.
Sober later issued a proposed order granting the project a certificate of public convenience and necessity. With no challenges to it, the order became final on Saturday, according to the PSC memo.