Maryland has taken an important step toward opening its community solar marketplace. Following the recent approval of utility tariffs, on April 10, 2017, the Maryland Public Service Commission (PSC) started accepting applications from operators of community solar systems to participate in the state’s community solar pilot program.
Companies and others wishing to be “subscriber organizations” (which can develop systems and manage participating households) will be able to apply for a "subscriber organization ID" from the PSC (essentially a license to operate), which will enable them to apply to administer specific projects at a later date. It is important to note that several additional steps need to happen before actual project offerings will become available to customers, and it might be several more months before customers are allowed to subscribe.
Applications received between April 10 and May 5, 2017 will be included in the initial group of subscriber organizations to participate in the first year of the program; once approved, a subscriber organization must first apply to a utility for interconnection and then apply for project capacity in that utility’s program. Utilities will accept projects with completed applications on a first-come, first-served basis until each utility’s program capacity has been met. Participating utilities include Baltimore Gas and Electric (BGE), Delmarva Power & Light, Potomac Edison and Potomac Electric Power Company. The statewide project cap is approximately 200 MW; 60 MW of that total is reserved for projects with a significant portion of low and moderate income customers.
According to the PSC, the three-year community solar pilot program aims to increase the opportunity to invest in or contract for solar generating equipment for all Maryland ratepayers. The program sets aside capacity for offerings to low and moderate income customers. In addition, it will encourage private investment in Maryland’s solar industry and diversify the state’s energy resource mix to meet the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard and Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Act goals. Community solar customers are expected to realize some savings on their electric bills, and all Marylanders will benefit from more clean energy options.
Here's a useful timeline for the Maryland solar marketplace:
- April 10 - May 5 (open window): interested Subscriber Organizations can submit their completed applications to the Maryland PSC
- May 5: Maryland utilities will provide project application forms and/or details on their respective websites for solar project developers
- May 19: The Maryland PSC processes Subscriber Organization applications and assigns successful Subscriber Organization applicants their identification numbers
- June 5: PEPCO begins accepting interconnection applications
- June 7: BGE begins accepting interconnection applications
- June 12: All Maryland utilities can begin accepting project applications for Year 1 of the pilot program (Years 2 and 3 of the pilot program will have a separate project queue)
Stay connected with Groundswell for more updates on the status of community solar in Maryland and when you can begin raising your hand for community power. For more information about Groundswell's efforts around equitable community solar, click here.