Community Issues - Solar Power

Solar Power

In the battle against global warming, solar power provides one of the best tools, since it essentially directly captures the heat of the sun and turns it into electricity. However, it requires large solar arrays, whether on roofs or in open fields. Around Kingsville, one sees more and more roof-mounted systems. We now have one medium-sized ground-mounted array installed by SGC Power at the end of Pfeffers Rd adjacent to I-95, installed on land that George Majchrzak recently purchased. According to information at the required zoning hearing, it produces 2.1 MegaWatts and takes up about 6 acres. SGC Power had previously installed a system at Glen Meadows Retirement community on Glen Arm Rd (apparently without the need for a hearing) that also takes up about 6 acres.

On August 29, 2016, it was announced by County Executive Kevin Kamenetz that the county will install 4 systems around the County with a total of 21 MegaWatts of capacity. One will be on "unused portions" of Mt Vista Park. It is unclear whether County officials consulted with the community before announcing these plans. It appears not.

See also Baltimore Sun article.

The following plans for Mt. Vista Park have been shared with the community, after the decision was made (click on image for larger image).

More recently, a rumor was heard that this project has been put on hold. Stay tuned!

This seems to be just a map with some initial thoughts. It shows the possible areas for fields, and several areas for panels, noting that there would be a 50' setback from the fields.

This shows two specific areas of panels of 4.8 acres and 3.5 acres for a total of 2.4 MegaWatts.

Note: For those following this issue, Bill 68-16 was introduced to place a "temporary" moratorium (until 30 Apr 2017) on installation of "solar farms" in RC zones, but not applicable to those installed as a part of a government sponsored project for government use. It was passed by unanimous vote on October 17, with an amendment added to require that such projects on public land have sufficient landscaping, and the end of the moratorium was changed to Feb 18, 2017. At the same time, resolution 101-16 to ask the Planning Board to study needed legislation was withdrawn. The County Exec vetoed the bill, citing the problems that it would create for the contract that they had already signed (without citizen input). The Democratic-controlled Council did not attempt to override the veto. A new Bill 95-16 was introduced to specify restrictions, but, once again, it would have no impact on any government-sponored installation. It was withdrawn and reintroduced as Bill 9-17 which was again withdrawn. Bill 13-17 then was introduced, but failed on a party-line vote.

Later, Council members Almond and Kach introduced Bills 37-17 and 38-17, respectively. At the July 3, 2017 meeting, significant amendments were introduced by Marks and Kach but defeated along party line votes. Bill 37-17 then passed and Bill 38-17 was "tabled" (that means, defeated).

The surviving bill allows solar facilities:

  • With a Special Exception
  • In RC2, RC3, RC4, RC5, RC6, RC8, BL, BM, MR, MLR, MH
  • Not in designated conservancy area in RC4 or RC6
  • Setback 50 ft from tract boundary
  • Must be landscape buffer so not visible from adjacent residentially-used property or street
  • Limited to producing 2 MW (note, the County's 4 projects, not subject to this bill, would total 21 MW.)
  • Not on land that is in preservation or in Baltimore County historic district or Landmarks list, or forest conservation easement
  • Limited to 10 per District (which will obviously be increased when the limit is reached
  • Does not apply to residential or agricultural use, rooftop, on government-owned land, or if at least 2/3 of the power is used on the farm
  • Must provide security bond (amount to be determined by the administrative officer!) for repair or removal
  • Must be removed within 150 days after ceasing to be used, after which the county may remove it (but says that Code Enforcement may issue a citation after 12 months of not beng used, which is the process by which the county begins proceedings to remove it.)
Note: The final point essentially means that, when a citizen believes that a solar field is no longer being used (how would one even determine that?) they file a complaint, after which Code Enforcement would have to watch it for 1 full year before issuing a correction notice, probably then giving another 150 days for its removal, after which a citation would be issued and a hearing scheduled. The hearing would then most likely grant a sufficient time for compliance (months?), after which another hearing would grant the county the authority to actually hire a contractor to remove it, who would take several more months at best. The 150 days quoted in the Bill is meaningless, based on previous experience with how the process actually works. It will certainly take at least 2 years.

Record of commercial (utility) Solar facilities approved or planned in the county

Dist.ZoneFiledCompanySizeOther petitions - result
none11630 Glen Arm RdGlen Meadows3RC5n/aWashington Gas Energy4.4a, 1.23MWPrivate, not utility, use;
in operation June 2014
none3 campusesCCBCn/aConstellation Energy5.1MWCarports, utility owned,
sold back to CCBC
2016-008611121 Pfeffers RdGeorge M.3RC510/4/15SGC Power6a, 2.2MWGranted
2016-033515700 Hanover PikeLippy3RC26/23/16Earth and Air Technologies2MWPart granted,
withdrawn, see 2018-0052
2017-010111956 Philadelphia Rd11956 Phil.
6RC510/11/16Turning Point EnergySetback variance, withdrawn
See 2018-0095
2017-0104612, 632 Freeland RdAtkinson3RC210/12/16Not scheduled
2017-01075298 Frye RdWoodensburg
Land & Cattle
2017-010820450 Middleton RdDave Matthews3RC2/810/16/16Bluefin OriginationNot scheduled
2017-034414503 Green Rd3RC26/21/2017Bluefin OriginationNot scheduled
2018-00301139 Monkton RdRexroth3RC27/23/17OneEnergy DevelomentNot scheduled
2018-004715637 York RdGerner3RC78/9/17ESA Sparks Glenco, LLC9aPostponed
2018-005215700 Hanover PikeLippy3RC28/13/17New Source Generation, LLC1MWSetback variance,
granted 10/12/17
2018-007219735 Graystone RdPhillips3RC28/31/17Forefront Power, LLC0.84MWHearing Dec 14
2018-00772316 Ridge RdSauter4RC69/10/17Forefront Power, LLC1.98MWHearing Dec 4
2018-00789155 Old Court RdWhite-Rose4RC29/10/17Forefront Power, LLC1.98MWHearing Dec 4
2018-009511956 Philadelphia Rd11956 Phil.
6RC59/26/17Turning Point Energy, LLCSetback variance
Hearing Dec 18
2018-01239303 Dogwood RdNeubauer4RC210/31/2017Solar Smart, LLCNot scheduled
2018-0124Old Court Rd, w of DogwoodNeubauer4RC210/31/2017Solar Smart, LLCNot scheduled

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Updated 20 Nov 2017