In the midst of the brutal heat wave that hammered the East Coast last week, officials in Maryland broke ground on Saturday for the 160-acre solar farm that will be situated on land that is part of the Maryland Correctional Institution.
The 20MW solar plant, located in Hagerstown, MD, will go a long way in furthering the state’s renewable energy goals, as well as giving a boost to Governor Martin O’Malley’s green industry/green jobs initiatives. The state’s solar industry already employees over 2,000 residents, with the governor predicting that the next 6 years will see another 10,000 jobs added to that number.
The Hagerstown for its part will employ 125 individuals during the construction process; 3 full-time employees will run the plant once its completed.
“When we choose to generate cleaner, greener energy here in Maryland we create Maryland jobs,” O’Malley said in a statement.
The new solar farm will produce enough energy to power 2,700 homes each year according to the state. It will also save carbon emissions equivalent to taking 4,400 cars off the road annually.
In addition to jobs, clean energy and reduced carbon emissions, the plant will quickly become one of the largest tax payers in Washington County where the solar farm is located. First Solar, developer of the project, will also pay the state nearly $500,000/year to lease the land where the farm is located.
Akron, Ohio-based FirstEnergy has agreed to purchase the power produced by the plant from FirstSolar for the next 20 years.
Maryland has a Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) requiring 20% of the state’s energy to come from renewable sources by 2022. State legislators bumped up the solar “carve-out” portion of the RPS to 2% by 2020.