Board of Public Works Approves Innovative Program That Could Create 326 Jobs and Cut Costs for MDOT and Its Neighbors
ANNAPOLIS, MD – Furthering the Hogan Administration’s commitment to the environment and to using transportation dollars wisely, the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) will run a number of its facilities throughout the state with solar power, at no additional cost to taxpayers. The Board of Public Works, chaired by Governor Larry Hogan, approved the plan at its February 7 meeting. MDOT Secretary Pete K. Rahn said no capital funds will be expended to pay for the program; and solar panels could be installed at up to 35 MDOT sites within 18 months. The program, one of the first of its kind by a state transportation agency in the country, is projected to generate 298 construction and 28 operations and maintenance jobs, with more positions added as solar power expands to other MDOT sites.
“We want to run our facilities efficiently while saving taxpayer dollars,” Secretary Rahn said.
Through the bidding process, MDOT selected six master contractors who will compete to provide renewable solar energy for MDOT’s headquarters and the facilities of its business units: MDOT State Highway Administration, MDOT Maryland Transit Administration, MDOT Motor Vehicle Administration, MDOT Aviation Administration, MDOT Maryland Port Administration and the Maryland Transportation Authority. MDOT owns or controls more than 874 facilities, including buildings, parking garages and parking lots that could be studied for solar installation; but not all structures will qualify.
“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,” said Ben Grumbles, Maryland Secretary of the Environment and chair of the Maryland Commission on 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.”
MDOT will lease land to the developer, who will construct, own, operate, and maintain the renewable energy infrastructure, without impacting existing parking or administrative functions of MDOT facilities. The initial contract for construction of the solar facilities is five years, with a two-year renewal option.
Once the solar systems are in place, MDOT will buy the power at a fixed rate for 20-25 years. For the project to be approved, the rate must be less than what MDOT would pay to the utility. MDOT expects its utility payments to drop from an average of 10 to 11 cents per kilowatt hour to 6 to 8 cents per kilowatt hour, which is a potential savings of 30 to 40 percent.
MDOT uses 395,000 megawatt hours annually and estimates the 35 initial sites will generate about 46,000 megawatt hours per year. The energy will be consumed either by an MDOT facility or by neighboring residents or businesses, which can subscribe as part of Maryland’sCommunity Solar Pilot Program.
“We are helping build a reliable and resilient energy source for our facilities and surrounding communities,” said Laura Rogers, MDOT’s Sustainability Program Manager. “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.”
Six firms that responded to a Request for Proposals (RFP) issued in June met the minimum qualifications and technical requirements to take part in the contract bidding process going forward. They are: Abundant Solar Power of Rochester, NY; Ameresco of Framingham, MA; ForeFront Power of San Francisco, CA; KDC Solar of Bedminster, NJ; Siemens Industry of Beltsville, MD; and Standard Solar of Rockville, MD.
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