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Company partners with Juwi Solar Inc. affiliate to build facility

Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative has entered into a power purchase agreement with an affiliate of Juwi Solar Inc. to develop, design and construct the 10-megawatt Rockfish Solar facility in Charles County, the company announced Wednesday afternoon.

JSI will construct and operate the facility through a wholly owned subsidiary, and SMECO will purchase all generated energy, capacity and solar renewable energy credits for the next 20 years.

Pending approval from the Maryland Public Service Commission and local permitting, the solar farm is planned to be a 10-megawatt solar photovoltaic facility on 80 acres off of Renner Road in Waldorf. JSI plans to employ the use of single axis tracking technology, and preliminary designs call for approximately 41,000 modules of solar panels. The project is scheduled to reach full commercial operation as early as the end of this year and is expected to generate roughly 21,000 megawatt-hours during its first year of operation, enough to power about 1,300 homes annually. An average SMECO household uses 1,300 kilowatt-hours a month and 15,600 kWh per year.

“This is also a major economic development project,” Commissioner Ken Robinson (D) wrote in a Facebook post Wednesday. “Kudos to SMECO for investing in the future!”

SMECO worked with the National Renewables Cooperative Organization to develop a request for proposals and evaluated about 30 submissions before selecting JSI. JSI is headquartered in Boulder, Colo.

Austin J. Slater Jr., SMECO’s president and CEO, said in a news release, “By working with NRCO and JSI, we are developing a project that will provide renewable energy right here in our service area, helping us to meet our regulatory requirements and to avoid costly transmission fees. Our customer-members will be glad to know that the cost of the energy provided by this solar project is very reasonable and will have a positive effect on customer rates,” Slateer said.

The project is the second solar project and fourth renewable project that NRCO has facilitated for SMECO.

SMECO developed a 5.5-megawatt solar farm in Hughesville, which has produced more than 10 million kWh since November 2012.

The new solar project, which Robinson wrote in the Facebook post is a $40 million investment, is expected to produce nearly twice as much energy as the Hughesville facility at a former gravel and sand mining site, according to the post by Robinson.

SMECO also purchases the energy and environmental attributes of two wind projects in Pennsylvania.