Blog post by Ilana Williams, Montgomery County 2023 Summer Climate Intern
Maryland consumed five times more energy than it produced in 2020, according to a 2022 profile analysis from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. In 2021, nuclear energy and natural gas “generated 73% of Maryland’s in-state electricity.”
By using PJM Interconnection, a federally regulated regional transmission system, electricity is moved to Pepco’s customers in states like Delaware, Indiana, Maryland, Ohio and North Carolina. Maryland also gets energy from Calvert Cliffs, the state’s only nuclear power plant. Calvert Cliffs accounted for 37% of the state’s total electricity
Montgomery County is integrating ways for more renewable energy in different sectors in the county like transportation, energy and business. The County addressed solar energy in its Climate Action Plan. Solar energy does not emit greenhouse gases from fossil fuels and reduces air pollution.
Completed solar projects in the County include Jane E. Lawton Community Recreation Center, Gaithersburg Library and Kidstop Child Care Center.
To help residents invest in solar energy, Montgomery County partnered with Solar United Neighbors, a non-profit organization that represents solar owners and supports across the country through a solar co-op. Homeowners can register with Capital Area Solar Switch to receive solar panels.
“We’re doing it to reduce our carbon footprint,” a Montgomery County resident said. “We just don’t like what is happening to the climate and what our children are going to have to deal with.”
After choosing which company will install solar panels, engineers visited the resident’s home about a year later to assess his roof. Then in December 2022, about six to eight months after the resident started the process, the solar panels were installed.
“There are a lot of different companies out there,” the resident said. “We wanted one that was vetted by the co-op and by people in the co-op.”
The solar panels were activated in the end of March of this year and the resident expects Pepco to switch his electricity bill to the solar panels in July.
“If we can do our little part to move it in the right direction, (we) will do it,” the resident said.
SUN has helped many residents, but Montgomery County should post more videos that talk about the value of solar energy and the process of installing it, the resident said. He would also like information sessions and financial incentives to encourage others to invest in solar panels.
“Education to me is always important,” the resident said. “We knew very little and (SUN) explained (the process) patiently.”
Step 1. Residents register and determine if their roof is suitable for solar panels
Step 2: Solar Switch holds a reverse auction with qualified installers
Step 3: Homeowners will receive an email with recommendations for the best ways to install solar panels
Step 4: Homeowners pay a $150 deposit if they choose to accept the offer. The deposit will be taken off their total payment for the solar installation
Step 5: Solar Switch will transfer homeowners’ electricity information to the installer who will set an installation date and conduct a survey to verify the roof’s suitability
Another way for residents to get involved is through community solar. For homeowners who are unable to install solar on their own property, community solar allows people to support and benefit from a shared solar power source.
Community solar customers can buy or lease a portion of the solar panels in the array and receive an electric bill credit for electricity generated by their share of the system, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. You can find more information about Community Solar here.