A Maryland co-op is turning to solar energy to power a new engineering and operations facility.
About 10 percent of the project’s 5.5-megawatt capacity will be used by Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative and the balance of the power will be a new source of renewable energy for its members.
Hughesville-based SMECO plans to deploy the solar array on 47 acres adjacent to its new building. The site is the remains of two family farms acquired several years ago by the co-op.
“Land that was once used to produce tobacco will now be used to produce electric energy,” said Austin J. Slater Jr., the co-op’s president and CEO. “We are making the most of our existing resources to increase our effectiveness as a cooperative.”
In recent years, the co-op has leased the fields to an area farmer for soybean production. Faced with a state-mandated renewable energy standard, SMECO’s directors began working with the National Renewables Cooperative Organization on ways to meet requirements.