Washington County Faces Increasing Costs of Solar Power

Over half of the County’s government facilities are powered by solar projects.

Washington, MD – Washington County commissioners met with Public Works on Tuesday to discuss the county’s solar projects as well as the cost of generating power.

“Our electricity cost has increased steadily over the past couple years,” Chief Financial Officer Sara Greaves said

Greaves said the cost of electricity, including regular and solar, increased from $1.8 million for fiscal 2016 to about $2.1 million in fiscal 2018.

Public Works Director Andrew Eshleman said costs rose because of increased consumption within the county as well as the county’s solar deal with Spear Point LLC has a built-in 2.5% annual increase for the solar energy generated.

During the first year of the solar energy deal in 2015, the county paid 8.5 cents for ever kilowatt hour of energy. The 2018 cost was 9.15 cents, charging the county a total of $950,579 for fiscal 2018.

Eshelman said the rates will continue to rise and the solar panels will likely lose their efficiency over time.

“Over a 25 year period… Industry wide, you’re looking at maybe 80%-85% of what the original capacity is,” Eshelman said. “You’ll see some reduction in overall production, but yet our overall rate will continue to increase linearly.”

Eshelman said the only option for the county to get out of the solar facility lease would be to purchase the facilities.

The county and school boards are seeking proposals for an energy-service company to review the solar deal for beneficial options. Proposals are due in September

By Timothy Young