Solar Energy Project In Cooksville To Power Howard County Church, College, Customers

July 11, 2024 0 By JohnValbyNation

HOWARD COUNTY, MD — A solar energy project underway in Howard County will provide power to St. Mary Coptic Orthodox Church in Cooksville, Loyola University Maryland in Baltimore and to individual customers who live in the county.

Chaberton Energy, a Maryland-based solar developer, and Pivot Energy, a national renewable energy owner and operator, have teamed up to bring the community project called Catherine Community Solar to Howard County. The 19-acre project site can be found on St. Mary Coptic Orthodox Church’s property.

“Pivot Energy shares our passion for the energy transition and works tirelessly to help communities access local, affordable, clean energy,” said Mike Doniger, chief operating officer at Chaberton Energy. “This project showcases our development team’s creativity as it combines three different solar business models in one project—a community solar project, a power purchase agreement with a nonprofit and the offsetting of on-site electricity usage. We are grateful to St. Mary Church, Howard County officials, Loyola and so many others who collaborated to make this a reality.”

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Project Catherine will provide a total of 4.3 megawatts of direct current (MWdc), enough to power the equivalent of 750 homes. Community solar subscribers will have access to 3.4 MWdc of capacity via the Maryland Community Solar program. Loyola will have access to 750 kilowatts of direct current (kWdc) under a renewable energy purchase agreement via the Maryland Aggregate Net Energy Metering program and the balance will be used to offset the church’s on-site load.

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“Community solar projects offer a unique alternative to traditional solar setups and an alternative to standard utility power bills,” Erica Brinker, chief commercial and sustainability officer for Chaberton Energy, told Patch. “Unlike the solar panels commonly found on residential roofs or the expansive arrays used by utility companies, community solar arrays fall somewhere in between in terms of size. These projects enable local community members to subscribe to the electricity generated by the array. In return for their subscription, participants receive credits on their electricity bills, which translates to savings while supporting the adoption of clean energy.

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“Put another way, the subscriptions cumulatively pay for all the costs of energy produced by the solar panels. That tends to be less expensive for consumers than buying power directly from the utility, which can be produced by any fuel source, including fossil fuels,” Brinker added.

Just a few miles away from Project Catherine is Chaberton’s Project Friendship in West Friendship, also in Howard County, that produces 6.25 MWdc, Brinker told Patch. Project Friendship was powered up in early 2023 and serves local community residents and small businesses via the Community Solar Maryland program, as well as Loyola University Maryland via the Aggregate Net Energy Metering program.

“Like all our projects in the mid-Atlantic, the project features a pollinator habitat, which will help restore bee population and grow productivity of surrounding farms,” Brinker said.

“Project Catherine helps leading institutions within the community gain access to clean, affordable, local energy,” added Brit Gibson, chief operating officer at Pivot Energy. “Our partnership with Chaberton and the willingness of St. Mary Church and Loyola University of Maryland to think outside the box made it possible to build this unique solar project.”

Project leaders worked with its partners and the community before developing the site and shaping up the project. For example, by limiting the footprint of the solar arrays to unused portions of the existing site, project designers retained prime athletic fields for the church. The solar land lease payments also will benefit the St. Mary community.

Chaberton Energy was founded in 2020 by Stefano Ratti, Senake Gajamera and Mike Doniger.

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