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BREAKINGNEWS
By ANDREW SCHOTZ | andrews@herald-mail.com | July 24, 2011
Maryland State Sen. Christopher B. Shank wants the state to renegotiate a proposed lease for a company to build a $70 million solar farm on prison land near Hagerstown. His complaint is the lease price: $128 an acre per year, which he says is insufficient. The state Board of Public Works is scheduled to consider the proposed lease Wednesday, but Shank, R-Washington, wrote a letter Friday to Gov. Martin O'Malley requesting that the discussion be tabled. Shank's letter says he doesn't oppose the project, but indicated that governments elsewhere have received higher lease prices and charged additional fees based on the generation of energy from the project.
NEWS
By ANDREW SCHOTZ | andrews@herald-mail.com | August 4, 2011
Maryland Comptroller Peter V.R. Franchot voted last week against a solar farm lease in Washington County, questioning why the state didn't seek a share of federal money the project could receive. Gov. Martin O'Malley and Treasurer Nancy K. Kopp, the other two members of the state's all-Democrat Board of Public Works, voted in favor of the 20-year lease for Maryland Solar LLC. Franchot voted no. After the July 27 meeting, Raquel Guillory, a spokeswoman for O'Malley, wrote in an email that, under the terms of the federal energy project program, a state can't receive any of the money.
NEWS
By DAVE McMILLION | davem@herald-mail.com | August 24, 2011
James M. Devine said during a public hearing Wednesday night that he was “somewhat (in) opposition” to a proposed solar farm at the state prison complex south of Hagerstown. The Hagerstown-area resident aired several concerns about the project, including that the 125 jobs associated with it would only be temporary and would not do a lot to help the unemployment situation in Washington County. Devine said he also questioned what taxpayers would get out of the project. Devine was among a handful of people who spoke during the hearing led by county Hearing Examiner Dennis Sober at Hagerstown Community College.
BREAKINGNEWS
By ANDREW SCHOTZ | andrews@herald-mail.com | July 27, 2011
The Maryland Board of Public Works voted 2-1 Wednesday to lease land at a prison complex near Hagerstown to a company planning a $70 million solar farm. The board - made up of Gov. Martin O'Malley, Comptroller Peter V.R. Franchot and Treasurer Nancy K. Kopp - had to approve the lease for the project to move ahead. The project still needs the approval of the Maryland Public Service Commission, which has scheduled a hearing for Aug. 18 in Baltimore. Franchot questioned the lease proposal, particularly why the state didn't try to share a $24 million federal grant the project would get. However, states aren't allowed to receive credits under that federal program, Raquel Guillory, a spokesman for O'Malley, wrote in an email after the meeting.
NEWS
By ANDREW SCHOTZ | andrews@herald-mail.com | August 18, 2011
With little discussion, a proposed solar farm in Washington County advanced a step on Thursday, as a state utility official accepted uncontested evidence in the case. The next step will be a public hearing at Hagerstown Community College on Wednesday. If there are no complications, Hearing Examiner Dennis Sober can soon recommend that Maryland Solar LLC be awarded a certificate of public need and necessity for its project. Maryland Solar plans to install at least 100,000 photovoltaic cells on land at the state prison complex south of Hagerstown.
NEWS
By KAUSTUV BASU | kaustuv.basu@herald-mail.com | October 26, 2012
The array of solar panels all facing south give the appearance of a shimmering lake. And by late December, the 300,000 solar panels, each roughly the size of a 46-inch flat screen television near the Maryland Correctional Institution-Hagerstown off Roxbury Road, are expected to generate a peak of 20 megawatts of power per hour. The solar farm annually will produce enough electricity to power 4,000 to 5,000 single family homes, according to an estimate by an official at First Solar Inc., the company leasing the land from the state to run the plant.
NEWS
By MATTHEW UMSTEAD | matthew.umstead@herald-mail.com | August 30, 2012
The old Berkeley County landfill near Martinsburg, which has been closed since the fall of 1991, is being eyed as a potential site for a solar energy farm, Berkeley County Solid Waste Authority's board chairman told Berkeley County Council members Thursday. Clint Hogbin said he is exploring the possibility of installing solar panels at the 24-acre landfill off Grapevine Road on behalf of the Solid Waste Authority board. While his investigation is in the “very early stages,” Hogbin told council members that a south-facing area of the landfill appears to be a very suitable location for a solar farm.
NEWS
By ANDREW SCHOTZ | andrews@herald-mail.com | November 2, 2011
The solar farm being built at the state prison system south of Hagerstown will have 175,000 panels on about 160 acres, an official with the solar company said Wednesday. The $70 million project will generate about 20 megawatts of electricity at peak, enough to power about 2,250 average homes. And it will move Maryland one step toward its mandate of having 20 percent of its electricity generated by renewable energy sources by 2022. Gov. Martin O'Malley's StateStat website says the state is at 27 percent of its 2022 goal.
NEWS
By DON AINES | dona@herald-mail.com | May 26, 2011
Maryland Solar LLC this week received the waiver it needs from the Maryland Public Service Commission to begin construction on a $70 million, 20-megawatt solar farm by the end of this year. State law requires the filing of an application for a certificate of public convenience and necessity two years before the construction of a power-generating facility. During a project briefing for state lawmakers Thursday, Maryland Solar Executive Vice President Jon Moore informed them the PSC granted the waiver on Wednesday.
NEWS
By ANDREW SCHOTZ | andrews@herald-mail.com | February 24, 2012
Dissatisfied with last year's solar-farm agreement for state prison land, state Sen. Christopher B. Shank is pressing to change the lease process. In July 2011, the Maryland Board of Public Works voted to lease 250 acres at the prison complex south of Hagerstown to Maryland Solar LLC for about $32,000 a year to start. The rent would rise 3 percent in year four of the 20-year lease, then every other year after that. Shank maintains that the state could have done much better.
ARTICLES BY DATE
NEWS
March 11, 2013
You can hardly pick up a newspaper or watch a news show without reading something about the environment or the ominous question: How are we going to feed 9 billion people? You will hear such buzzwords as greenhouse gases, carbon sequestration or green energy. Then there is the seeming contradiction that is the solar “farm” that is springing up along Roxbury Road and Sharpsburg Pike. Am I against solar energy? Not at all. I think it has its place, but certainly not taking up cropland or when it is so one-dimensional.
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NEWS
By CALEB CALHOUN | caleb.calhoun@herald-mail.com | December 3, 2012
Solar panels are coming to Hagerstown Community College. Students at HCC toured the solar farm on Roxbury Road on Monday along with staff and faculty as part of the school's collaboration with First Solar that was announced in a press release at the beginning of November. “We're trying to show the students the general building blocks of a utility-scale solar power plant,” said Peter Seidel, First Solar's regional manager of projects. “This fits right in our corporate culture, trying to educate the students and the public about alternative energy.” The tour went through the 20-megawatt Maryland Solar facility, a First Solar project that is in progress, as First Solar explained what was happening.
NEWS
By KAUSTUV BASU | kaustuv.basu@herald-mail.com | October 26, 2012
The array of solar panels all facing south give the appearance of a shimmering lake. And by late December, the 300,000 solar panels, each roughly the size of a 46-inch flat screen television near the Maryland Correctional Institution-Hagerstown off Roxbury Road, are expected to generate a peak of 20 megawatts of power per hour. The solar farm annually will produce enough electricity to power 4,000 to 5,000 single family homes, according to an estimate by an official at First Solar Inc., the company leasing the land from the state to run the plant.
NEWS
By MATTHEW UMSTEAD | matthew.umstead@herald-mail.com | August 30, 2012
The old Berkeley County landfill near Martinsburg, which has been closed since the fall of 1991, is being eyed as a potential site for a solar energy farm, Berkeley County Solid Waste Authority's board chairman told Berkeley County Council members Thursday. Clint Hogbin said he is exploring the possibility of installing solar panels at the 24-acre landfill off Grapevine Road on behalf of the Solid Waste Authority board. While his investigation is in the “very early stages,” Hogbin told council members that a south-facing area of the landfill appears to be a very suitable location for a solar farm.
NEWS
By ANDREW SCHOTZ | andrews@herald-mail.com | June 19, 2012
A proposed solar project will generate $515,000 for Washington County when it is completed and about $12.9 million over 25 years,  according to County Administrator Gregory B. Murray. The Washington County Board of Commissioners agreed on Tuesday to the power purchase and lease agreements with EPG Solar. The county plans to lease up to 130 acres at its Forty West and Resh Road landfills for EPG's 25-megawatt solar development. The EPG Solar project and a separate 20-megawatt solar farm under construction south of Hagerstown would contribute a large percentage of the solar power Maryland needs to meet renewable-energy benchmarks, EPG Solar owner Robert Babcock told county officials.
NEWS
By DON AINES | dona@herald-mail.com | March 14, 2012
Maryland Solar LLC, the company that announced plans last year to build a 20-megawatt solar power-generating facility on the grounds of the Maryland Correctional Institution, has been acquired by First Solar Inc., which intends to complete the project by the end of the year. Headquartered in Tempe, Ariz., First Solar announced the acquisition on Wednesday, but spokesman Alan Bernheimer said the cost of the purchase is not being disclosed. “We expect to begin (construction) sometime in the second quarter,” said Roy Skinner, the project developer for First Solar.
NEWS
By ANDREW SCHOTZ | andrews@herald-mail.com | February 24, 2012
Dissatisfied with last year's solar-farm agreement for state prison land, state Sen. Christopher B. Shank is pressing to change the lease process. In July 2011, the Maryland Board of Public Works voted to lease 250 acres at the prison complex south of Hagerstown to Maryland Solar LLC for about $32,000 a year to start. The rent would rise 3 percent in year four of the 20-year lease, then every other year after that. Shank maintains that the state could have done much better.
NEWS
By ANDREW SCHOTZ | andrews@herald-mail.com | February 8, 2012
Washington County is trying to change a taxation provision that was never used, but is now relevant. Sen. Christopher B. Shank said that in 2007, the Maryland General Assembly reduced an operating grant to local jurisdictions to help offset the cost of property taxes that utilities didn't pay. Instead, the legislature established a payment in lieu of taxes, or PILOT, program. Washington County's PILOT program was written with the R. Paul Smith electric plant in Williamsport in mind.
NEWS
By JULIE E. GREENE | julieg@herald-mail.com | December 1, 2011
FirstEnergy Solutions has signed a 20-year agreement to buy power from a large solar-generating facility to be built south of Hagerstown, a move critical to the project's success, an official with the solar project said Thursday. The solar project probably would not have moved forward without the purchase power agreement, said D. Bruce Poole, a local attorney representing Maryland Solar LLC. Financing for the project is contingent on the venture's success, he said. If the purchase power agreement had not occurred, it would have put a "major stick in the wheel," Poole said.
NEWS
By ANDREW SCHOTZ | andrews@herald-mail.com | November 2, 2011
The solar farm being built at the state prison system south of Hagerstown will have 175,000 panels on about 160 acres, an official with the solar company said Wednesday. The $70 million project will generate about 20 megawatts of electricity at peak, enough to power about 2,250 average homes. And it will move Maryland one step toward its mandate of having 20 percent of its electricity generated by renewable energy sources by 2022. Gov. Martin O'Malley's StateStat website says the state is at 27 percent of its 2022 goal.
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