The Harford County Council has approved new community solar legislation. The vote comes shortly after the legislation, which allows for the development of solar systems, was presented to homeowners and received ample positive feedback. Councilmembers voted unanimously to approve the legislation and allow it to move to the next stage of work.
Though approved, the community solar legislation still has to undergo some review and changes. As it stands, solar facilities are not permitted on agriculturally-zoned land. Since many developers prefer working with farmland as it often leads to minimal disruption, a work-group has been formed to alter some parts of the legislation to increase the types of zoned land installations can be built on.
According to Robert Wagner, a councilman on the Harford County Council, agricultural land was left out of the community solar legislation as the council had “much to consider” regarding that zoning classification. The work-group hopes to amend the legislation to include agriculturally-zoned land. Wagner stated that the framework for this alteration is already written into the bill.
Based on the community solar legislation, systems can be built on land zoned for businesses and residential neighborhoods. Each facility that’s built can only generate up to 2-megawatts. A facility that can generate approximately 2-megawatts is estimated to take up at least eight acres of land. However, it is enough energy to power around 800 homes.
Wagner believes that including agricultural land will be beneficial to the landowners. When developers look to use their land, they can lease it for the life of the project and generate passive income. It’s especially helpful for farmers who have empty land and no plans for it.
Restrictions are planned for solar sites built under the community solar legislation. Including in those restrictions are caps on a system’s height and its proximity to another energy generating facility, and the inclusion of a 6-foot-high fence.
The community solar legislation will help Maryland achieve its goal of switching 50% of its retailed electricity to renewable sources by 2023.