It has been years in the making, but Maryland is almost ready to launch its community solar program. Maryland, which currently has installed capacity of over 600MW of solar, looks to gain an additional ~190MW under the MD Community Solar Pilot program. Given the tariff discussions thus far, there are some gray areas that need clarity, but the program overall can be successful.
Four Maryland utilities are participating in the three-year pilot program: Potomac Edison, Potomac Electric Power Company, Baltimore Gas and Electric, and Delmarva Power & Light. Each utility has set annual capacity limits for the program, broken into Open, Low & Moderate Income, and Small/Brownfield community solar categories. Because of the fragmentation among the different utility territories and project categories, there will likely be fewer than 5 projects approved in each category for each utility annually, and all projects must be below 2MW AC.
The program was estimated to begin in mid-2016, but multiple approval delays the increasing complexity of the new program led to a longer rollout period. When will the program begin? The utilities submitted revised tariffs to the Public Service Commission, and the second round of reviews has begun.
Once subscriber organization applications are released, project developers will need to apply and be approved as a subscriber organization before applying for interconnection, and those applications are due to be released any day now. Only after an interconnection agreement is executed, along with proof of site control and permits, can a pilot program application be accepted.
Questions like how to handle an excess of project applications and how to avoid runs on interconnection queues may need to be addressed, but there are infinite “what ifs” for new programs like this. No program will be perfect initially, but it is important get the program underway and make updates as necessary.
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