Putting a utility scale solar generation project on a valuable land resource, the Clark Farm, is not in the best interests of Kent County’s or Chestertown’s economic future in addition to violating Kent County Land Use Ordinance regulations.
Why would you want to remove the opportunity costs on a property that sits in a strategic location as developable land adjacent to Chestertown when you could retain that property and still see economic benefits and decrease local dependence on fossil fuels. We now have a model for assessing just how much solar could be built without putting a utility scale solar generation plant on the Clark Farm. The Chesapeake Conservancy has developed a model which they have used in both St. Mary’s and Baltimore County. In St Mary’s utilizing just over 8% of optimal sites (residential and commercial rooftop, parking canopies, degraded or contaminated lands including landfills) would provide its share of the state’s mandated solar contribution towards RPS goals. In Baltimore County the goal can be met by using 10% of the optimal sites identified. There is no reason to believe that adequate optimal sites won’t be found in Kent County as well.
Once the Clark Farm property is purchased by Urban Grid as they have done with Egypt Road Solar LLC in Dorchester it is likely to remain as a source of little or no economic benefit to Kent County in perpetuity. The purchase even removes the small amount of increased income tax that would be assessed to the property owners actually living in the County.
Kent County enacted some of the most liberal policies for solar in the Land Use Ordinance of any county in Maryland. Land was designated for utility-scale solar but more importantly it gave a green light to farms, businesses and residents to install solar arrays to supplement their power needs with few requirements. This distributed behind the meter or net metered solar while not understood at that time turned out to be the most economically beneficial form for adding solar generation. Daymark Energy Advisors, in a study commissioned by the Maryland Public Service Commission, found this distributed solar to provide economic benefit of almost double the value compared to utility scale solar. This increased benefit as noted in the report is before taking into account the additional advantage that comes from the avoided costs of transmission and distributions upgrades that will be needed to transfer utility-scale generation or the direct benefit to those that take advantage of it. These economic advantages have been confirmed in other reports around the nation by advisors including Vibrant Clean Energy Advisor, in a report for California, currently commissioned by the Department of Natural Resources to help in the study of 100% clean energy for Maryland.
It is easy to understand this benefit if you know one of the primary economic drivers is jobs creation. As shown in the 11th annual National Solar Jobs Census only 19% of the jobs for solar installation and development are supported by utility scale projects. More local jobs and better economic benefits accrue for local jurisdictions by using a distributed solar generation model. All of this aligns with Kent Conservation & Preservation Alliance’s long held position; put solar on built space and spare the land needed to house residents and businesses, maintain open space and provide food. Support our local solar businesses and the people they employ not the CEO’s of corporations and the hedge funds that reap profits that have no benefit for Kent County. Even the Environmental Report submitted by the Power Plant Research Program acknowledges that there will be no long term employment in operations and maintenance for Morgnec Solar.
PS: While not the point of this letter I need to clarify that Federal tax incentives for wind and solar do not pale in comparison to fossil fuel industries. (Paula Reeder Comment to Spy on 10.21.2021) this is a myth propagated by the renewable lobby and their enablers which is then repeated by an uninformed public. My statement is best illustrated in the following graphs.
What these graphs also illustrate is how poorly Nuclear energy is treated when it comes to Federal support. Nuclear energy, which is free of CO2, reliable, creates well paid employment and has plants that last for up to 80 years, is the least funded of all energy generation.
Additionally, what these graphs do not show is further subsidization of wind and solar by state funding in the form of Renewable Energy Credits (REC) and Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SREC). These are added costs passed on to the consumer. A University of Chicago study concluded, states with renewable portfolio standards (RPS), had higher electric rates than states without them. But we don’t really need a study to know that to be true, when you pay twice for the same energy produced it is going to cost you.
Maryland Public Service Commission will hold a public hearing on November 4th at 6:30 PM. Register to make a comment on Morgnec Road Solar Case # 9499 by forwarding an email to [email protected].