Constellation Energy dedicated the largest solar farm in Maryland on August 29. A fitting day for the launch during the first week of college at Mount St. Mary’s University. The 16.1 megawatt photovoltaic array was built using First Solar modules in Emmitsburg, Md. on land leased from the university.
The solar power plant joins a 1.6 megawatt solar plant that’s also at St. Mary’s University and was installed by Constellation earlier this year. “It is dedicated to the university and is designed to generate 2 million kilowatt hours a year,” said Constellation Energy spokesperson Kelly Biemer.
Unlike that plant, which powers the university’s Knott Complex and wastewater treatment facility, the larger facility powers the state’s Department of General Services and the University System of Maryland. “They were constructed fairly simultaneously. The smaller system came online earlier in April and the other system came on in early in July,” Biemer said.
The dedication was attended by, among others, Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D). At the dedication, he said that over the past five years they put 530 times more solar on the grid than previously and during that period the solar industry employed 2,000 people in the state.
It’s far from Constellation Energy’s first solar system in Maryland. “The company’s already done 25 megawatts of solar for customers in Maryland,” she said. Those include solar systems installed at places like Anne Arundel County, Coppin State University, General Motors, Maryland Science Center and McCormick & Company. The company also has developed a total of 112 megawatts of solar across the U.S.
The systems in Maryland are owned by Constellation, which sells the power produced by them under power-purchase agreements (PPAs) with state and St. Mary’s University. They were installed as part of Maryland’s Generating Clean Horizons Initiative.
While Constellation has developed these projects in Maryland, it’s not likely to own any of its own solar arrays in Maryland to put on the grid for its customers, according to Biemer. “Constellation, when it merged with Excelon, it no longer had generation assets,” she said. Rather the company became a retail supplier of energy, rather than a producer.