Large Solar Farm Eyed Along Route 50 West Of Berlin

BERLIN – The public will have the chance to comment on a 120-acre solar facility planned near Whaleyville at a hearing hosted by the Maryland Public Service Commission next week.

On Thursday, June 9, the Public Service Commission (PSC) will host a 7 p.m. public hearing at the Ocean Pines Community Center to receive comments on a proposal from Gateway Solar LLC to build a 12 MW solar photovoltaic generating facility on the north side of Route 50 just east of Whaleyville.

“Maryland has established one of the most aggressive renewable portfolio standard goals in the country,” reads the project application submitted to the PSC, “aiming for 20 percent of its power to be renewable by 2022, including two percent from in-state solar by 2020 … In order to meet its ambitious requirements at a reasonable cost, Maryland needs not only small residential rooftop installations but also larger facilities like the Gateway Solar Project.”

According to the application, the project would be located on 120 acres of a 426-acre parcel of A-1 agricultural land owned by Tull Brothers LLC. In Worcester County, utility scale solar farms are permitted on parcels zoned A-1. Gateway Solar will lease the property from the landowner.

The project is currently in the middle of the engineering and permitting process. According to the application, Gateway Solar officials would like to begin construction this summer. The company claims 40-60 temporary jobs would be created during the construction process, benefiting the state’s economy.

“Because of the nature of solar installations, environmental impacts from the projects will be minimal and the long-term benefits significant,” the application reads.

The site planned for the solar farm, which abuts Route 50 on one side and Route 346 on the other, would be surrounded by a fence.

“…the aesthetic impact to the site and surrounding area will be minimal because the panels are low to the ground and landscape buffers will be implemented on the outside of the fence,” the application states.

Information on the project, docketed by the PSC as Case No. 9409, is available at Area residents can share their thoughts on the proposal at Thursday’s hearing at the Ocean Pines Community Center, which will be attended by Public Utility Law Judge Dennis Sober. Citizens also have the option of submitting written comments to the PSC prior to June 9.

About The Author: Charlene Sharpe

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Charlene Sharpe has been with The Dispatch since 2014. A graduate of Stephen Decatur High School and the University of Richmond, she spent seven years with the Delmarva Media Group before joining the team at The Dispatch.