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Public Input Wanted on Proposed Solar Farm at South Germantown Park


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By Kevin O’Rourke

The Montgomery County Parks Department is looking for public input on a proposal to construct a solar farm on property in the South Germantown Recreational Park.

The public can provide input at the Upcounty Citizens Advisory Board meeting on Monday, February 9 at 7 pm.

The proposed solar farm is part of Montgomery Parks Solar Farms Initiative which build two such solar farms, one at South Germantown Park and another in Rock Creek Regional Park in Silver Spring. The solar farms would be constructed in areas with limited natural resources where no active or passive recreation exists or is planned.

A solar farm is an area of land where a large number of solar panels are set up to generate energy. The solar panels create power that can be sold into the utility grid and offset the cost of our energy usage and benefitting the environment as fewer fossil fuels are burned to create the electricity.

“Each proposed site equates to about five acres,” said Dominic Quattrocchi, a Park Planer with the Maryland-National Capitol Parks and Planning Commission. “No active or planned park uses will be compromised by the proposed solar arrays. These sites were specifically chosen in large measure because of their lack of use and lack of natural resources.”

According to Quattrochhi, the solar farms will reduce the carbon footprint equivalent to annual greenhouse gas emissions from 300 automobiles and will constitute a cost savings of up to $290,850 annually per two megawatt solar farm.

The solar farms would reduce the M-NCPPC’s dependence on nonrenewable resources and environmentally damaging extractive techniques. The solar farms are also consistent with M-NCPPC’s stewardship mission statement and Montgomery County’s energy initiatives and carbon reduction goals.

Quattrocchi, said the two solar arrays on would be constructed at no cost to the County as part of a Solar Power Purchase Agreement and third party financing.

Through a Solar Power Purchase Agreement third-party developer owns, operates, and maintains the photovoltaic system, and a host customer, in this case the M-NCPPC, agrees to site the system on its property and purchases the system's electric output from the solar services provider for a predetermined period. This financial arrangement allows the host customer to receive stable, and sometimes lower cost electricity, while the solar services provider or another party acquires valuable financial benefits such as tax credits and income generated from the sale of electricity to the host customer.

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