Montgomery County officials announced Monday the start of a new solar energy program that will bring solar panels to 14 county-owned buildings and facilities.
The program is a partnership with the company SolarCity, which won a competitive bid to sell the county the energy generated by the panels. Under the terms of the deal, SolarCity will install and maintain the solar panels at no cost to the county. The county will then purchase the energy generated by the panels at a rate of 5 cents per kilowatt-hour over the next 20 years, according to Eric Coffman, the chief of the county’s Office of Energy and Sustainability. That rate is about half what the county currently pays for electricity, according to Coffman.
County officials estimate the deal will result in energy savings of $11 million over 20 years.
“This is the result of a commitment to leadership in environmental sustainability,” County Executive Ike Leggett said at an event in Chevy Chase announcing the partnership Monday.
The solar initiative began nearly six years ago after residents in the Town of Chevy Chase began lobbying for solar panels on the Jane Lawton Community Recreation Center in Chevy Chase. Their insistence on the project resulted in council member Roger Berliner prodding the county government to pursue solar panels both at that site and elsewhere.
“It’s a bright, sunny day in Montgomery County,” Berliner said at the event Monday as he thanked the Chevy Chase residents who started the conversation and pushed for the solar panels. He added that the partnership will help to create high-paying “green” jobs in the county.
The solar panels will be installed on libraries, recreation centers, correctional facilities and solid waste sites as well as on government buildings and parking lots.
The panels atop the Jane Lawton center in Chevy Chase are the first of 14 projects that will eventually produce approximately 6 million kilowatt-hours each year, according to county estimates.