CARMEL, Ind., Sept. 26, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- The National Renewables Cooperative Organization (NRCO) announced today that one of its members, Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative (SMECO), has engaged SunEdison to develop a 5.5 MW AC solar facility. SMECO will own and operate the facility through a wholly owned subsidiary, SMECO Solar LLC.
Pending approval from the Maryland Public Service Commission and final engineering and permitting, the solar farm is planned to be a 5,500 kilowatt (AC) solar photovoltaic facility to be located on 47.2 acres of land owned by SMECO in Hughesville, Maryland, adjacent to SMECO's new Engineering and Operations Building. The solar facility is scheduled to reach full commercial operation in early 2013. The facility is expected to supply generation of 8,471 MWh in its first year of operation and will be net metered with SMECO's Engineering & Operations Building, which will consume over 10% of the project output. The project will generate electricity for at least 20 years.
The project is the result of a request for proposals that was issued by NRCO on behalf of SMECO in March of this year. After receiving a robust response to the RFP, NRCO and SMECO spent the summer evaluating the 30 submissions. NRCO and SMECO carefully considered many diverse attributes of specific projects before selecting SunEdison and to pursue project ownership over a purchase power agreement. NRCO and SMECO are looking forward to working with SunEdison, a worldwide leader in solar project development headquartered in Beltsville, MD. NRCO and SMECO are also excited about this opportunity to bring locally sourced green energy to the cooperative members in southern Maryland.
This project is the first solar project that NRCO has facilitated for SMECO, though it is the third renewable project. SMECO previously purchased the energy and environmental attributes of two wind projects through NRCO's subscription process. Producing solar renewable energy will help SMECO fulfill its renewable portfolio obligation as required by the state. Utilities are obligated to purchase .1 percent of their load from solar energy resources in 2012; that percentage increases each year thereafter. Utilities that don't purchase the required amount of solar energy must buy renewable energy credits or pay a penalty.
"The administration of this RFP and the selection of a development partner, as well as the creation of SMECO Solar LLC, represent the fulfillment of several of NRCO's strategic goals to bring affordable, green energy to our cooperative members. We congratulate SMECO on this exciting new venture and we thank all the bidders who submitted proposals for their hard work and thoughtful responses," commented Amadou Fall, CEO of NRCO.
"We are making the most of our existing resources to increase our effectiveness as a cooperative: land that was once used to produce tobacco will now be used to produce electric energy," according to Austin J. Slater, Jr., SMECO's president and CEO. "Working with NRCO and SunEdison has allowed us to develop a project tailored to our needs that will benefit our customer-members. Through our partnership, we will be able to obtain low-cost financing for infrastructure that will increase the availability of solar resources within our service area."
Cooperatives across the country formed the National Renewables Cooperative Organization (NRCO) to promote and facilitate the development of renewable energy resources for its members. NRCO's main purposes are to facilitate the cost-effective, joint development of renewable resources nationwide for its cooperative owners, helping its owners meet the requirements of voluntary and mandatory Renewable Energy Standards (RES).
Membership in the NRCO is open to generation and transmission cooperatives (G&Ts) and distribution cooperatives that have the legal ability to buy power in the wholesale market. Members located in areas that may not have renewable resources can participate in projects across the United States through renewable projects originated and/or developed by NRCO. For more information, please visit www.nrco.coop.
SMECO is a customer-owned electric distribution cooperative based in Hughesville, MD and serving 150,000 customers. SMECO serves southern Prince George's County, Charles County, St. Mary's County, and all but the northeast portion of Calvert County. SMECO contracts with wholesale power providers to meet the energy needs of its members. For more information on SMECO visit www.smeco.coop
SOURCE National Renewables Cooperative Organization