Maryland Clears Path for Community Solar

Reflecting the nation’s growing interest in community solar, on May 15, 2015, Maryland passed a law directing the state’s Public Services Commission (PSC) to establish a three-year pilot program for community solar projects, which provide the means for electricity customers to benefit from off-site or group-owned solar panels through “virtual” net metering.

The Maryland law imposes a two-MW limit on the capacity of individual community solar systems and requires that they be located in the same electric service territory as its subscribers, but the law otherwise provides the PSC with broad discretion to shape the pilot program.

Last month the PSC issued its draft regulations. The proposed regulations would cap statewide program capacity at 218 MW and credit the power generated by approved community solar projects at the full retail rate. The regulations would also require that thirty percent of accepted projects be located on brownfields, parking lots, or other industrial sites. Another thirty percent of program capacity would be set aside for low and moderate income subscribers. Importantly, electric companies are directed to facilitate the operation of projects established under the pilot program for twenty-five years after the program has ended.

The draft regulations will be published in an upcoming issue of the Maryland Register, at which point the public will have 30 days to submit comment.

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