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CPV Solar Project Could Re-regulate Electricity in Maryland

CPVsolarprojectThe state of Maryland got a renewable energy power boost when CPV Renewable Energy Co. announced plans to build a 10-megawatt solar farm together with an already proposed natural gas-burning power plant, reports the Baltimore Sun. Only about 5 percent of all power generated in Maryland comes from renewable sources, but a 2008 state law requires electricity suppliers to get 20 percent from renewable sources by 2022, according to the article. Meanwhile, the lack of a contract for the CPV project could lead to a change in the state’s electricity regulations just in order to speed along the project.

The solar project, called the CPV Piney Reach Solar Farm, is the largest in the state, according to CPV (PDF). It is expected to be in service by 2012. CPV said the co-location of the solar farm with a natural gas generator represents a new “hybrid” approach to electricity generation that combines the environmental benefits of renewable power with low emission rates of natural gas generation.

If the CPV solar- and gas-powered generator project gets built it could result in Maryland’s first step toward re-regulating electricity, according to a Baltimore Sun blog. The blog suggests that CPV’s proposed solar facility won’t get built at all, considering that CPV won’t build either the gas or the solar generator without a contract with a customer.

The way electricity deregulation in Maryland works is by having generation plants seek customers on the open market instead of having dedicated customers and regulated prices, reports the blog.

However, Maryland’s Gov. Martin O’Malley wants some kind of re-regulation, and by CPV adding the proposed solar project to its gas-plant proposal, the re-regulation may end up looking close to what CPV wants, according to the blog.

Earlier this year, Governor O’Malley announced an initiative that would award local governments and nonprofits up to $8 million in grants and loans in fiscal year 2010 to help pay for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects.

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