When people think of Hagerstown, Md., they don’t often associate it with solar.
They’re more likely to think of civil war, pipe organs or even Mack trucks, but the city is becoming a PV hub of sorts.
Most recently First Solar announced that it bought a 100 percent stake in Maryland Solar, a 20-megawatt project near Hagerstown.
It’s not the first PV array in the city. In fact, a 1.5-megawatt solar array at a Staples warehouse in Hagerstown was the largest array in the state for a number of years. But the new First Solar array is among the largest, if not the largest array under development in the state.
First Solar will start building the array in the second quarter of 2012 and anticipates completion of the project in the fourth quarter. That project will create rough 125 construction jobs, according to First Solar. Once completed, it will provide enough electricity to power about 2,700 homes in the region, according to the company.
First Solar acquired the Maryland Solar Farm, which is under contract to sell electricity and renewable energy credits to FirstEnergy Solutions, to complete the project. It’s also seeking a company to buy the project.
“First Solar’s typical business model is not to own these generating assets for the long term,” said First Solar spokesperson Alan Bernheimer.
The company has at least one other project in Maryland.
“First Solar is constructing a 16.1-MW (AC) project in Emmetsburg, Md., for Constellation Energy,” Bernheimer said.
That project is owned by Constellation, but First Solar is providing engineering, procurement and construction.
While First Solar developed some of the world’s largest PV plants, like the 550-MW Topaz project in California, using its thin-film CadTel PV, it’s also working on smaller plants.
“First Solar is interested in developing and building utility scale PV plants ranging in size from 10 MW to 500 MW,” Bernheimer said.