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Sharing Solar Power: Closer to a Reality in Maryland

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A pilot program to share solar power in Maryland will begin this spring, once final public comments are made to the Maryland Public Service Commission. (flickr.com)
A pilot program to share solar power in Maryland will begin this spring, once final public comments are made to the Maryland Public Service Commission. (flickr.com)
March 3, 2016

ANNAPOLIS, Md. - A lot of hard work went into winning legislative approval for the Maryland Community Solar Pilot Project and now, its backers say the job is to get residents and businesses signed up.

The idea is to allow businesses to put up solar panels, and community members can buy shares of the power that's generated.

The U.S. Department of Energy says about half of homes and businesses nationwide aren't able to install solar panels. Susan Miller, clean energy attorney for Earthjustice, says this project allows those who can to share their excess energy.

"If there's a grocery store in the neighborhood that has a big flat roof that can put solar panels all over it, and wouldn't necessarily need all that energy, then they can get subscribers to subscribe to that portion of energy that they won't be using," Miller explains.

The Maryland Public Service Commission came up with a set of regulations and is taking final comments so the program can begin on May 15.

Miller says community shared solar is the new trend and many people want to get on board.

"And that will enable Maryland residents who can't put solar on their roof, either because they don't actually own the roof or the roof isn't situated well or has a tree canopy, so this will give access to solar energy to pretty much everyone in the state," says Miller.

She adds the pilot program runs for three years and the focus now will be getting those who have the capacity to install panels signed up, so they can start sharing the power they generate.

Veronica Carter, Public News Service - MD