Case Studies:

Montgomery Parks

  • System Specs | 2.5 megawatt
  • System Production | 3,510,000 Kwh
  • Environmental Benefits | will offset more than 2,500 tons of greenhouse gases annually, the equivalent of the amount of electricity used to power nearly 400 average American homes in a typical year.

Montgomery Parks Sustains Self With Solar Fields

When the Montgomery Parks department decided to move forward with its sustainability goals, solar became an integral part of the plan. The trick, of course, was how to pay for it—and fortunately they found a partner who could help them overcome that challenge.

 

The vision and mission of Montgomery Parks is clear as soon as you click on their website. Words like “green,” “conservation,” “treasured spaces” and “natural” leap off the page. It’s clear this is an organization committed to doing everything it can to maintain its network of parklands safe and secure for future generations.

As they looked at new ways to fulfill their overall mission, sustainability was a word that also kept cropping up, and they started looking for ways to put that sustainability into practice as it pertained to the parks’ electricity consumption.

After all, Montgomery Parks is not a small operation. They operate:

 

  • 421 parks across 36,895 acres

  • More than 500 lakes

  • 457 miles of streams

  • 302 tennis courts

  • 303 athletic fields

  • 290 playgrounds

  • 219 basketball courts

  • 238 miles of paved and natural surface trails

  • 134 picnic areas

  • 117 historic structures

  • 102 campsites

  • 28 park activity buildings

 

In other words, there is plenty of electricity needed to keep everything running smoothly. Solar electricity became an obvious choice as it was certainly keeping within the parks department’s main goal of preserving the natural beauty of the area for future generations. The team at the parks department knew that finding sites for solar installation wouldn’t be a problem, as they already had two parcels of land well-suited for the purpose.

However, paying for solar arrays with money upfront was not an option, so they would have to find an alternative way to pay for the farms if the department’s dream of going solar was to be achieved.

Purposeful Partnership

As luck would have it, the answer came in the form of a company hailing from the center of the county itself—a company called Standard Solar, which specializes in all parts of the solar development process. With $300 million in low-cost capital to lend thanks to its parent company Énergir, Standard Solar was able to help Montgomery Parks realize its solar dream by signing the county on to a long-term power-purchase agreement (PPA), a solar-specific funding mechanism that allowed them to avoid any upfront costs.

Under the financing agreement, Standard Solar built, owns and will maintain the solar farms for the county, while the parks system will purchase all the electricity produced by the array for around the next 25 years. As a bonus, the price set for the electricity purchase allows the parks department to hedge its bets against spikes in electricity prices from the local utility.

All About The Savings

The 2.5 MW (combined) ground-mount arrays at South Germantown Recreational Park and Rock Creek Regional Park, which contain nearly 8,000 modules, will offset more than 2,500 tons of greenhouse gases annually, the equivalent of the amount of electricity used to power nearly 400 average American homes in a typical year.

The solar fields are part of Montgomery Parks’ commitment to sustainability and are a major step forward in reducing reliance on non-renewable sources of energy. The parks department’s sustainability program aims to help preserve natural and economic resources, reduce consumption and waste, reduce environmental footprint, promote green practices in facilities and programs, and support the wellness of employees and the wider community.

According to a parks department spokeswoman, the department is looking at adding more rooftop solar and possible solar carports to continue their commitment to installing solar power and weaning itself off fossil fuels.

 

 

As part of the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, the Montgomery Parks department is very interested in sustainability. With that in mind, when the parks department began exploring ways to offset their electricity costs, the clean option of solar became the electricity source of choice.

The department already had two separate parcels of land that would be perfect for solar farm development—the challenge was finding a way to pay for the installation. After all, in an era of tight government budgets, the prospect of having to pay for a solar farm installation up front was daunting even among the project’s supporters. So, if they were going to become reality, Montgomery Parks had to search for the best way to finance the solar farms.

Fortunately, the parks department had a company in its own backyard who could help them solve their financing dilemma. Standard Solar, a leading national solar company conveniently headquartered in Montgomery County, came to Montgomery Parks’ rescue in the form of a long-term power-purchase agreement (PPA).

The 2.5 megawatt (MW) combined ground-mount arrays at South Germantown Recreational Park and Rock Creek Regional Park, which contain nearly 8,000 modules, will offset more than 2,500 tons of greenhouse gases annually, the equivalent of the amount of electricity used to power nearly 400 average American homes in a typical year. It will offset approximately 25% of the electricity needs of several parks-district facilities.

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