Md. to buy wind and solar power from 4 projects

AP News
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Posted: Dec 08, 2009 5:37 PM

Maryland officials announced plans Tuesday to fill nearly a quarter of the government's annual electricity needs with power supplied by clean energy projects from the Delaware coast to the Appalachian ridge tops.

The state will sign 20-year purchase agreements with four wind and solar developers, demonstrating Maryland's commitment to reduce its carbon footprint by 25 percent by 2020, Gov. Martin O'Malley said.

"With the combined resources of strategic public and private partnerships, we will continue to bring more green jobs to our communities, use public resources more efficiently and lead by example for other states," O'Malley said in a statement.

Maryland Energy Administration Director Malcolm Woolf said the contracts will cover 23 percent of the electricity used annually by state agencies and institutions, including the University System of Maryland.

Woolf wouldn't discuss the dollar value of the contracts, since they haven't been signed. He said the cost will likely be in line with what the state would pay for electricity produced largely from coal-fired generators.

"Depending on how fast fossil fuel commodity prices go up, it may even save money for the state," Woolf said.

He said the state will buy all the electricity generated by a 55-megawatt wind farm planned near Keyser, W.Va., by US Wind Force LLC of Greensburg, Pa. The 23-turbine project is awaiting approval by the West Virginia Public Service Commission.

"They say that with this award, it will have it up and running within a year," Woolf said.

Maryland will buy 13.5 megawatts from 14.5-megawatt solar project that Baltimore-based Constellation Energy Group Inc. plans to build on the Mount St. Mary's University campus near Emmitsburg. Constellation spokesman Aaron Koos said the $60 million project will consist of thin-film photovoltaic cells on 100 acres leased from the university, which will buy a small portion of the electricity. The company hopes to complete the project by December 2012, Koos said.

Woolf said the state will buy up to 55 megawatts from an offshore wind farm that Bluewater Wind, a unit of Princeton, N.J.-based NRG Energy Inc., plans to build off the Delaware coast by 2014.

And the state would buy 10 megawatts from a 50-megawatt wind farm planned atop Backbone Mountain in Garrett County by the Annapolis-based Synergics Group. The project won state regulatory approval last month.