The benefits of going solar are undeniable. So undeniable, in fact, that state governments are getting on board. Last year, the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) was given approval by the state Board of Public Works to install solar panels at 35 of their sites. This program is one of the first of its kind in the country and is a clear indicator of the value of solar panels.
Pete K. Rahn, Secretary of Transportation at MDOT, said that the goal was to increase the efficiency of the department while also saving taxpayers money. These are also two of the biggest reasons that private property owners develop an interest in going solar - to save money on their utility bills and to produce energy that’s more efficient through a renewable source.
The intricacies of the project are unique, however, and differ from the way a private property owner would typically go about installing solar panels. For the MDOT project, the department will lease land to a developer who will then be responsible for constructing and maintaining the infrastructure. MDOT, along with local residents and businesses who subscribe to the Community Solar Pilot Program, will then purchase power from the developer at a fixed rate for a period of 20 years. In order for the project to proceed, the rate must be guaranteed to be lower than what MDOT would otherwise pay the utility.
In terms of cost-savings, the department expects to see their utility bills slashed by 30% to 40%, which is a significant amount when those savings can be potentially passed on to taxpayers.
Helping the environment is also clearly at the forefront of the MDOT project. Here’s what representatives of the department had to say:
“Going solar at MDOT facilities helps to grow a green economy while advancing our ambitious greenhouse gas reduction goals to combat the effects of climate change. Going solar also helps to clean the air that Marylanders breathe and, by reducing pollution deposited into waterways, it helps us to reach our Chesapeake Bay restoration goals.” -- Ben Grumbles, Maryland Secretary of the Environment and chair of the Maryland Commission on Climate Change
“We are helping build a reliable and resilient energy source for our facilities and surrounding communities. This project will reduce air and water pollution, contribute to Maryland’s greenhouse gas reduction and renewable energy goals, support local jobs, and increase Marylanders’ access to clean energy.” -- Laura Rogers, MDOT’s Sustainability Program Manager
The Maryland Department of Transportation isn’t the only “big name” that’s made the shift toward solar energy. Huge corporations such as Amazon, Apple, Macy’s, and IKEA have installed their own massive solar panel systems to generate their own energy. These large-scale initiatives are, of course, money-saving ventures for the organizations, but they’re also capable of having a tremendous impact on the environment and the companies’ carbon footprints.
Maryland is leading the way in its efforts to put renewable energy to work and we hope to see other states follow suit and go solar to help fight climate change.
Do you have questions about going solar? Learn everything you need to know in our guide, Frequently Asked Questions About Solar Panels!