By ELIZABETH M. PIAZZA
ANNAPOLIS - A Constellation Energy Group, Inc. (NYSE: CEG) subsidiary will build the first state agency solar power system at the Maryland Environmental Service headquarters in Millersville, Gov. Martin O'Malley announced Tuesday.
The Maryland Environmental Service signed a 15-year agreement with Constellation Energy's Projects & Services Group permitting Constellation to construct a $2 million solar facility. In exchange, Constellation will own the energy assets and sell the electricity it generates on site to the Maryland Environmental Service.
O'Malley said Maryland wants to be a national leader in renewable energy while working to lower consumer costs.
"Get this, you don't often get to say this," O'Malley said, sweating under the hot sun. "There will be zero, nada, nothing, no upfront costs to taxpayers whatsoever."
Without this type of agreement state agencies and other consumers would have trouble paying for the startup costs of a solar power project.
The new facility will qualify Constellation to acquire Solar Renewable Energy Certificates which it can use toward compliance with Maryland's Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard. The standards require power companies to increase their use of renewable energy by 2022.
The solar panels will supply 100 percent of the agency's energy needs in the summer, and approximately 50 percent of its annual energy needs, producing 396,000 kilowatt-hours of power each year.
Two types of solar panels will be used. Flexible, thin film panels will be applied to the roof of the building and crystalline silicon panels will be installed on the grounds near Interstate 97.
The electricity will be sold at the current rate charged by a coal burning plant, 15 cents per kilowatt-hour. As part of the agreement with Constellation, the price will be locked in for the 15-year term.
The Maryland Environmental Service, created in 1970, is an independent state agency that works with government and the private sector to protect the state's air, land and water.
The current headquarters, completed in 2004, is a green building and serves as a model for sustainable development, water savings and energy efficiency.
The solar panels will also be used as an educational facility for students, who will be able to view the panels and learn about how they work.
Over the 15 years, the project is expected to eliminate more than 10 million pounds of carbon dioxide, 36,000 pounds of nitrogen oxide and 528,000 pounds of methane, the equivalent of removing more than 800 vehicles from the road.
Constellation Energy's Projects & Services Group, a subsidiary of Constellation Energy, is working on several projects at Towson University and the University of Maryland that are aimed at increasing energy efficiency.
Constellation has developed approximately five megawatts of on-site solar energy projects in five states, as well as geothermal heating and cooling projects for the National Park Service in Towson and the U.S. Army at the Aberdeen Proving Ground.
Capital News Service contributed to this report.
Constellation to Build 300 kW Solar Power System for State Agency, Sept. 30, 2008