A second virtual public hearing on a proposed solar power installation along Route 136 in the Creswell area of Harford County is scheduled for later this month.
The Maryland Civil Service Commission will host the virtual hearing regarding the 30-megawatt Fairview Farms project at 7 p.m. Tuesday April 20. Public utility law judge Christine Burke will preside over the hearing.
During a December virtual meeting for public comment, several residents and county government officials voiced objections to the proposal, which would place 102,000 photovoltaic panels on 140 acres of land at 2000 Calvary Road.
PTR HoldCo LLC, a subsidiary of Pro-Tech Energy Solutions LLC, based in New Jersey, is seeking state approval to construct a facility. Pro-Tech is developing, building and operating solar projects along the East Coast for other customers, such as online retailer Amazon, company officials previously told The Aegis.
The zoned agricultural property for the Harford County facility is located between Route 543, Schucks Road and Route 136. The land is owned by the Fielder family, who currently operate a farm there. Pro-Tech would lease the land for the solar installation. While the total plot is 255 acres, the solar panels would not occupy the entire land; Pro-Tech officials said the company is avoiding developing restricted areas such as wetlands and streams.
Pro-Tech’s environmental report notes that the project meets Harford County’s regulations for agricultural areas, which allow the construction of a “public utility facility” in those districts.
The proposed solar installation will absorb sunlight, create energy, and then send it to BGE’s power distribution grid via a connection to existing utility lines along Route 136, directly across from the highway from the farm, Pro-Tech officials said. BGE has already approved the project and reported that the power grid can handle the additional capacity. The project represents between $ 55 million and $ 60 million in capital investment, Pro-Tech officials said.
The energy created by the solar installation would be sold to BGE for use on the electricity grid.
The solar installation is not a permanent use of the property, but a temporary use, and the panels and supporting infrastructure can be removed once the useful life of the installation of 25 to 30 years is completed, officials said. Once the facility is removed, the property can be returned to its agricultural condition if the owners and county officials so desire.
During the December hearing, residents demanded the location be reconsidered, and the county government said the proposed project went against its land development philosophy and could reverse decades of precedent in the land. county. The PSC ultimately decides on the location of solar farms.
The county administration has introduced, and Harford County Council passed legislation last month that will allow community solar power systems on certain types of county land. At the PSC’s December hearing, the then county planning director said local legislation would provide more direct economic and environmental benefits to communities than larger-scale solar power installations. like the one proposed for Fairview Farms, and would allow them to integrate stealthily into communities to minimize the inconvenience of solar energy installations.
Any member of the public wishing to speak at the hearing should send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org by noon on Monday, April 19. The hearing will be held on the WebEx platform and registered participants will receive an email to join the hearing. People can also watch the hearing live online through the Utility Judges Division channel on YouTube.
Written comments can be submitted to the PSC online until April 29, or sent by mail, addressed to Andrew S. Johnston, Executive Secretary, Maryland Public Service Commission, William Donald Schaefer Tower, 6 St. Paul Street, 16th Floor , Baltimore, Maryland 21202.
Whether submitted online or by mail, written comments should include a reference to Case 9652. People can visit a PSC webpage for Case 9652 for general information about the project, including a link to the application and environmental review document.