Maryland to lease prison land for solar panels

Board of Public Works approves 20-year lease of land near Maryland Correctional Institute

July 27, 2011|By Steve Kilar, The Baltimore Sun

The Board of Public Works voted 2-to-1 Wednesday to approve the lease of state prison land to a solar energy company for 20 years.

Maryland Solar, LLC was granted a lease at a price of $32,050 per year, with a 3 percent annual increase after the third year, for about 250 acres near the Maryland Correctional Institute in Hagerstown. The land is currently being farmed and the company will have to option to lease unused portions of the tract for agriculture.

According to the board's agenda, it is estimated that the installation of about 100,000 panels on the land will cost the company around $70 million and will create approximately 125 construction jobs, beginning later this year.

The project by the Easton-based company, the sole bidder for the lease, will more than double the amount of energy produced with solar power in the state, Gov. Martin O'Malley said at the hearing.

Comptroller Peter Franchot was the lone dissenter at Wednesday's meeting of the three-person panel that also includes the governor and Treasurer Nancy K. Kopp.

Franchot did not support the lease, he said, because the state was not receiving the best possible deal, in light of the millions of dollars in federal renewable energy subsidies that the company will receive for building the solar facility.

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