The Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC) unveiled two fields of solar panels today, which will provide power to two of its wastewater treatment plants. The two 2-MW ground-mounted installations, each with nearly 8,500 solar panels spanning several acres, are located at the Western Branch Wastewater Treatment Plant in Upper Marlboro, Md., and the Seneca Wastewater Treatment Plant in Germantown, Md. Both facilities are the result of a public-private partnership with Washington Gas Energy Systems and Standard Solar, Inc.
“This project is good for the environment, our bottom line and our ratepayers,” said Jerry Johnson, WSSC’s General Manager and CEO. “Being good environmental stewards is core to our mission. We are pleased to add solar power to our array of energy efficient approaches to water and wastewater treatment, and we will continue to stay at the forefront of alternative energy and environmentally sound business practices. It’s the right thing to do.”
Washington Gas Energy Systems will own and operate the solar installations under a 20-year power purchasing agreement. Standard Solar designed and installed the systems at the wastewater treatment plants, which clean and treat used water and sewage and safely return clean water to the environment. Together, the solar arrays at the two plants are expected to generate approximately 6.6 million kWh of solar energy each year. Solar power will provide 12 to 21 percent of the electricity required to operate the two plants, saving ratepayers approximately $3.5 million over the life of the agreement. The systems are also expected to help reduce carbon dioxide emissions equal to avoiding the use of approximately 358,680 gallons of gasoline each year.
“This public-private partnership with the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission will improve our environment not only by ensuring the cleanliness of local waters, but also by generating emissions-free solar energy to run operations,” said Sanjiv Mahan, vice president of business development for Washington Gas Energy Systems. “We are confident that companies and organizations throughout Maryland will continue to embrace solar energy as we continue to expand our portfolio within the state.”
Working together, Washington Gas Energy Systems and Standard Solar have enabled more than 11MW of solar power with multiple solar systems throughout Maryland. Washington Gas Energy Systems owns and operates several renewable energy systems throughout Maryland, including solar installations in schools and community centers in Kent and Montgomery Counties, one of the East Coast’s largest solar installations at Perdue facilities in Salisbury, Md. and a solar project at the University of Maryland College Park.
“We are excited to celebrate the completion of WSSC’s two systems, adding 5MW of solar capacity to Maryland,” said Scott Wiater, president of Standard Solar. “These installations mark another significant chapter in WSSC’s sustainability story and benchmark toward Maryland’s energy independence. Public-private partnerships such as this not only strengthen the state’s infrastructure but also make Maryland one of the top solar energy states in the nation.”
— Solar Builder magazine