FAQ

Why install a solar power generation plant in Greenbelt?

Broadly, to replace some of the electricity generated by PEPCO with fossil fuels and lower Greenbelt’s carbon footprint.  More narrowly, to generate renewable electricity local to a Greenbelt host site.  Solar electricity is both produced and consumed at the host site.

 

How does a Community Solar LLC function?

A group of members combine funds to cover the installation of a solar power generation plant.  The LLC members are responsible for establishing the LLC’s legal framework, the installation contract, a power purchase agreement (PPA) with the host, insurance, provision for long maintenance, and distribution of income from the solar power generation plant.  The LLC structure developed by University Park Community Solar offers an effective partnership between the host and the LLC members.  The host site’s role is mainly providing a roof well suited to a solar array and using the electricity generated by the array.

 

What benefit does the host site gain from solar power generation plant?

Through the power purchase agreement, the host gains a long-term source of renewable electricity at competitive rates without the significant capital expense required for a solar array.

 

What obligation does the host site have?

The principal obligation is to buy the solar array’s electricity before buying from other electricity suppliers.

 

Is the solar power generation plant safe for the host?

Solar photovoltaic panels and the associated mounting racks are both relatively light.  Nearly any roof that can satisfy P.G. building code has the required load-bearing capacity.  Very early in discussions with a potential host site, the installer’s engineering group will survey the roof to make certain it is capable of supporting the array and that the array will not suffer from shading or direction limitations.

 

Will the host site remain connected to PEPCO?

Yes.  The LLC plans to use a grid-tie design, which means that excess electricity generated during the day is sent out to the grid while at night the host site draws electricity back from the grid.  Maryland’s net metering rules mean the host only pays for the net electricity used.  Should more electricity be generated than used during a billing period, the excess electricity is carried forward as a credit.

 

How large an array is planned?

The size depends on the host site, but an array between 20 kW and 50 kW is the current plan.  In addition to the host site’s available roof area, the array size will be set to match the host’s electricity usage.  The ideal sizing would have the array’s yearly generation just match the host’s yearly electricity usage.

 

Why does Greenbelt Community Solar use a for-profit LLC?

The group in University Park explored various co-op models for about two years.  The LLC proved to be both the simplest and most flexible.

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