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Maryland Power Plants and the Environment (CEIR-18)

2.1.5 Renewable Resources

Presently, there are four main types of renewable energy resources in use in Maryland: wind, biomass, solar, and hydropower. Approximately 1,458 MW of generation capacity in Maryland comes from these resources, with hydroelectric accounting for the largest share (see Figure 2-6).

Figure 2-6 Renewable Energy in Maryland, as of 2015  

Figure 2-6, Installed Renewable Energy Capacity (MW) in 2015 Pie Chart
Figure 2-6, Renewable Energy Generation (MWh) in 2015, Pie Chart

Source: PJM Generator Attributes Tracking System for capacity, and EIA-923 for generation. Solar capacity includes both utility-scale and rooftop solar. Solar generation excludes rooftop solar.


The conversion of wind power to electricity is typically accomplished by constructing an array of wind turbines in a suitable location. Utility-scale wind projects range in size from just a few turbines to hundreds of turbines, depending on the location and capacity of the project, among other things. Wind turbines range in size from 20-watt micro-turbines (used for small-scale residential or institutional applications) to new 10 MW prototypes, with manufacturers now researching the possibility of 20 MW turbines for offshore facilities. Land-based, utility-scale wind turbines typically have a rated capacity between 1.5 and 3 MW, although some are as large as 5 MW.

By the end of 2016, the United States will have its first operating offshore wind energy plant, a 30 MW project at Block Island, Rhode Island. Five 6 MW wind turbines will be at the site. Twenty-one offshore wind projects totaling 15,650 MW are in various stages of development. Whether these projects will ever come online will depend on the status of the federal Production Tax Credit (PTC), the ability of developers to secure financing and power purchase agreements (PPAs), and navigating federal and state permitting requirements. For land-based wind, 74 gigawatts (GW) of wind is in operation, making the United States the second-leading installer of wind capacity in the world after China.

In Maryland, the greatest wind resources are located in the western-most counties and off of the Atlantic Coast on the Outer Continental Shelf. The DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) estimates that the United States may have a potential land-based wind resource capacity in excess of 10,000 GW. Maryland is estimated to have a potential land-based wind resource capacity of approximately 1.5 GW when the hub height is at 80 meters. Maryland’s potential land-based wind resource capacity increases considerably at higher hub heights: 10,258 MW at 110 meters and 18,034 MW at 140 meters. Figure 2-7 illustrates the prospective land-based wind resource areas in Maryland.

Figure 2-7 Maryland Potential Wind Resources

The Maryland General Assembly passed legislation in 2007 allowing new wind power facilities equal to or less than 70 MW in capacity to request an exemption from the CPCN requirement if:

Wind facilities are still subject to any federal, State, and local approvals needed to address (among other things) erosion and sediment control, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) lighting requirements, and threatened and endangered species impacts. In addition, the Maryland General Assembly passed an amendment in 2012 further requiring that any wind facility be no closer than a PSC-determined distance from the Patuxent River Naval Air Station. The radius of this exclusion zone may not exceed 46 miles.

Click to OpenCounties in Maryland with Wind Energy OrdinancesThe majority of counties in Maryland have adopted some form of zoning ordinance for wind turbine development (see sidebar). Until very recently, Garrett County did not have any zoning regulations regarding the development of commercial-scale wind turbines. However, in 2013, the Maryland General Assembly enacted legislation establishing minimum setback requirements for utility-scale wind turbines in Garrett County — the only instance to date of the State legislature imposing county-specific requirements on wind power development. The statute requires a minimum distance from schools and residences of no less than 2.5 times the height of the wind turbine. Wind projects that have filed interconnection agreements with PJM before March 1, 2013 are exempt from this requirement. Wind developers can request a variance from the Garrett County Department of Planning and Development of up to 50 percent of the minimum setback requirement as long as all adjacent property owners give written authorization. The legislation also requires wind developers to post a bond equal to 100 percent of the estimated cost of decommissioning and site restoration.

Land-based Wind Projects in Maryland

Table 2-3 and Figure 2-8 show the operating and proposed wind facilities in Maryland. Currently, there are four operating utility-scale wind facilities in Maryland, all located in Garrett County. Their combined power capacity of 190 MW is estimated to represent about 12 percent of Maryland’s land-based wind resource potential at a hub height of 80 meters. Two other projects, representing about 140 MW, are currently in the planning and development stages.

Table 2-3 Status of Land-based Wind Projects in Maryland

Project – Developer/Owner Size
Location Nearest Town Status
Criterion – Exelon 70 Backbone Mountain,
Garrett County
Oakland Operational
Roth Rock – Gestamp Wind 50 Backbone Mountain,
Garrett County
Oakland Operational
Fourmile Ridge – Exelon 40 Fourmile Ridge,
Garrett County
Frostburg Operational
Dans Mountain – Laurel Renewable Partners 70 Dans Mountain,
Allegany County
LaVale CPCN Application Pending
Fairwind – Exelon 30 Backbone Mountain,
Garrett County
Oakland Operational
Terrapin Ridge EDF Renewables 69 Garrett County Friendsville Proposed

Figure 2-8 Approximate Locations of Wind Energy Projects in Maryland

Figure 2-8

Originally developed by Clipper Windpower, the 70 MW Criterion Wind Project was acquired by Constellation Energy (Constellation) in April 2010. More recently, the Criterion Wind Project was acquired by Exelon in 2012 through Exelon’s merger with Constellation. Located on Backbone Mountain in Garrett County, the wind facility is comprised of 28 turbines that are approximately 415 feet tall with a maximum output of 2.5 MW each. Construction was completed in December 2010. Constellation signed a 20-year PPA with the Old Dominion Electric Cooperative for both the energy and the RECs produced by the wind facility. The Criterion Wind Project generated about 174,000 MWh in 2014.

The Roth Rock Wind Facility, developed by Synergics and now owned by Gestamp Wind, has a total installed power capacity of 50 MW. This facility, also located on Backbone Mountain near the Criterion Wind Project, consists of twenty 2.5 MW turbines, and stretches approximately three-and-a-half miles along a ridge near the West Virginia border. Gestamp Wind has a 20-year PPA with DPL for both the energy and the RECs produced at the facility. The Roth Rock Wind Facility generated about 125,000 MWh in 2014.

In January 2013, Fourmile Wind Energy, LLC, a subsidiary of Synergics, submitted an application to the PSC for a CPCN exemption for a 60 MW wind project in Garrett County. The PSC conducted a hearing in Garrett County to receive public comments in March 2013, and subsequently approved the CPCN exemption in April 2013. The project was revised to be developed under Exelon as a 40 MW project consisting of sixteen 2.5 MW turbines. The project commenced operations in 2015.

Clipper Windpower proposed the 30 MW Fairwind Project to be located adjacent to the Criterion Wind Project. The PSC granted a CPCN exemption for this project in December 2013. Exelon took over the development rights to the Fairwind Project and brought the project online in 2015. The project consists of twelve 2.5 MW wind turbines.

Maryland’s two other proposed land-based wind power proposals are described below. The ultimate generating capacity of these projects will depend on the specific turbine models selected for each project:

Two proposed wind projects in Maryland were converted to solar. Apex abandoned its proposed Mills Branch wind project in Kent County and proposed a 60 MW solar facility near Chestertown. Apex’s application is pending before the PSC. Pioneer Green Energy proposed the 150 MW Great Bay wind project in Somerset County, but public opposition and concerns by the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) about the wind turbines’ potential effect on radar at the Patuxent River Naval Air Station delayed the project. In 2014, U.S. Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) successfully added an amendment to the DoD’s appropriations bill that prevents the U.S. Navy from finalizing any agreement with Pioneer Green Energy until a $2 million study regarding the potential impact on test range and turbine motion was completed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Pioneer Green Energy recently received approval by the PSC for the 150 MW Great Bay solar project. If the project proceeds, the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) will purchase half of the output.

Offshore Wind Resource Potential

According to an NREL study, the United States may have a usable offshore wind resource capacity of over 4,000 GW, with approximately 480 to 570 GW of that potential in the Mid-Atlantic region. NREL estimates that Maryland alone has an unrestricted (not accounting for siting or possible conflicts with freight ships) offshore wind power capacity in excess of 25 GW. A report prepared by the University of Delaware suggests that Maryland’s unrestricted offshore wind potential is even higher, at 60 GW. Using existing offshore wind turbine technology and limiting development to shallow waters reduces the offshore wind potential to 14.6 GW. Still, if fully developed, offshore wind could supply 70 percent of the State’s electric demand. For more information regarding Maryland’s offshore wind, see Section 5.5.1.


Click to OpenGrowth of Solar Energy in MarylandBy virtue of its location, Maryland has only an average solar resource with moderate solar energy intensities, as illustrated in Figure 2-9. However, Maryland has several policies in place that encourage the deployment of solar energy systems. One such policy is the State’s RPS, which calls for 20 percent renewable energy by 2022, with 2 percent coming from solar energy sources by 2020. Solar systems must be connected with the distribution grid in Maryland to be eligible. Load-serving entities (LSEs) can self-generate solar power, purchase solar renewable energy credits (SRECs), or pay the solar alternative compliance payment (ACP), providing a financial incentive to homeowners, businesses, and independent developers to install solar renewable energy systems. Solar generators must offer SRECs for sale to Maryland electric suppliers before offering them to anyone else.

Figure 2-9 Quality of Photovoltaic (PV) Resource

Figure 2-9

Source: “Solar Explained, Where Solar is Found,” U.S. Energy Information Administration, National Renewable Energy Laboratory,

At the conclusion of 2015, there were 23,304 in-state solar projects representing more than 411 MW of generating capacity in Maryland, according to the PJM Generation Attribute Tracking System (GATS). GATS tracks SRECs that are eligible for use in complying with the Maryland RPS. While most of the facilities are smaller than 10 kilowatts (kW), 45 systems larger than 1 MW have come online. Table 2-4 lists the GATS-registered solar facilities by system size. First Solar, Inc. recently constructed the largest solar PV facility in the state at 20 MW; it is capable of powering more than 2,700 homes at peak operation. Constellation began operation of another 20 MW solar facility at its Perryman site in Harford County in early 2016, and in December 2015, Great Bay Solar received PSC approval to construct up to 150 MW of solar generating capacity in Somerset County, the largest solar installation under development in Maryland. In total, since early 2015, the PSC has issued CPCNs to 12 solar facilities with a combined capacity of 295 MW.

Table 2-4 Maryland’s Solar Facilities Listed in PJM GATS, 2015

System Size (kW) Number of Projects Total Capacity (MW)
0 to ≤ 3 2,011 4.62
> 3 to 6 6,127 28.57
> 6 to 10 8,422 66.64
> 10 to 50 6,373 92.68
> 50 to 100 108 7.13
> 100 263 211.99
Total 23,304 411.63

Source: PJM Generation Attribute Tracking System.

According to PSC’s Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard Report, Maryland’s solar RPS resources generated 239,279 MWh of renewable electricity in 2014. Based on the installed solar capacity in 2015, Maryland’s solar generation must grow by over 30 percent per year to meet the 2020 solar requirement.

Similar to Maryland, New Jersey also provides strong policy support for solar technologies. New Jersey’s 20 percent RPS requirement initially featured a 2.12 percent solar PV set-aside that has since been changed to 4.1 percent of all retail electric sales by 2028. As of November 2015, New Jersey had 1.6 GW of installed solar capacity.

Click to OpenSolar Energy Facility at Mount St. Mary’s UniversityNationally, installed solar costs have declined, on average, by 6 to 12 percent per year since 1998, depending on customer class (residential or non-residential). Cost declines, however, have not occurred at a steady pace. In fact, installed costs declined markedly until 2005 but remained stable through 2009 despite widespread deployment. National median costs of solar systems dropped by 9 percent for residential systems, 10 percent for non-residential systems below 500 kW, and 21 percent for non-residential systems over 500 kW (see Figure 2-10) in 2014, as compared to 2013, and preliminary data suggest that the costs of installed systems continued to decline in 2015.

Certain incentive policies, like the Maryland and New Jersey RPSs, have assumptions of declining PV installation costs built into the enforcement mechanisms. In the case of the RPS policies, the alternative compliance payment (ACP), which effectively places a ceiling on solar REC costs since it provides an alternative method by which to comply with the requirement, generally moves lower year to year. If the solar industry cannot match these downward cost profiles, utilities may begin opting to pay the ACP in lieu of installing solar facilities.

Figure 2-10 The Cost of Solar PV in the United States, 1998-2014

Figure 2-10

Source: Barbose, Galen and Naim R. Darghouth, Tracking the Sun VIII: The Installed Price of Residential and Non-Residential Photovoltaic Systems in the United States, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, 2015,


Click to OpenHydroelectric Potential at Existing DamsHydropower is one of the oldest sources of power, used thousands of years ago to grind grain. The first U.S. hydroelectric power plant began operations in the 1880s. A hydroelectric dam is the most well-known form of hydropower production, often built on a very large scale by closing off an entire river and forming a large lake-like reservoir.

In 2013, President Obama signed two bills aimed at boosting development of the nation’s hydropower resources. H.R. 267, the Hydropower Regulatory Efficiency Act, promotes the development of small hydropower and conduit projects and aims to shorten regulatory timeframes of certain other low-impact hydropower projects, such as adding power generation to the nation’s existing non-powered dams and closed-loop pumped storage. As of June 2015, the FERC reported that it has received 58 notices of intent to build small conduit hydropower projects that would be exempt from FERC jurisdiction. Of these, FERC accepted 43, rejected eight because they did meet statutory criteria, and seven are pending.

President Obama also signed into law H.R. 678, the Bureau of Reclamation Small Conduit Hydropower Development and Rural Jobs Act, which authorizes small hydropower development at existing Bureau of Reclamation-owned canals, pipelines, aqueducts, and other manmade waterways. Such development could provide enough power for 30,000 American homes with no environmental impact.

Click to OpenConduit Hydroelectric Power in MarylandConduit hydropower projects are able to extract power from water without the need for a large dam or reservoir. Existing or newly constructed tunnels, canals, pipelines, aqueducts, and other manmade structures that carry water can be fitted with electric generating equipment to produce hydropower. Conduit hydro projects are efficient and often cost-effective, as they are able to generate electricity from existing water flows using infrastructure that is either already in place or is proposed regardless of a need for power.

Maryland has two large-scale (greater than 10 MW capacity) hydroelectric dam projects and six additional small-scale facilities that are currently in operation. Maryland’s hydroelectric plants are listed in Table 2-5 with locations shown in Figure 2-11. Conowingo Dam, the state’s largest hydro facility, is currently operating under a temporary license from FERC until Maryland issues a water quality permit under the Clean Water Act. The Maryland Department of Environment has not issued the permit yet as it wants Exelon, the dam’s owner, to address nutrient and sediment releases from the dam that eventually flow to the Chesapeake Bay. Maryland is required to comply with a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rule to meet Clean Water Act standards for the Chesapeake Bay by 2025. Chapter 4 includes further discussion about hydroelectricity and its potential impacts.

Table 2-5 Hydroelectric Projects in Maryland

Project Name
plate Capacity
River /
FERC Project No. Owner FERC License Type FERC License Issued FERC License Expires Year Operational
Conowingo 572 MW Susquehanna/ Conowingo, Harford County 405 Susquehanna Power Co. and PECO Energy Power Co. Major License 1980 2014 1928
Deep Creek 20 MW Deep Creek/ Oakland, Garrett County - Brookfield Power None - - 1928
Jennings Randolph (proposed) 13.4 MW North Branch Potomac River/ Bloomington, Garrett County 12715 Fairlawn Hydroelectric at USACE dam Major License 2012 2062 (Proposed for 2015)
Dam 4
1,900 kW Potomac River/ Shepherdstown, WV 2516 Harbor Hydro Holdings LLC Major License 2004 2033 1909
Dam 5
1,210 kW Potomac River/ Clear Spring, Washington County 2517 Harbor Hydro Holdings LLC Major License 2004 2033 1919
Gores Mill 10 kW Little Falls/ Baltimore County - C. Lintz None - - 1950s
40 kW Beaver Dam Creek/ Wicomico County - W.H. Hinman None - - 1950s
Brighton 400 kW Patuxent River/Clarksville, Montgomery County 3633 KC Brighton LLC Minor License 1984 2024 1986
Frostburg 75 kW Big Savage Mountain Pipeline/Allegany County 14059 City of Frostburg Conduit Exemption 2011   2012

Figure 2-11 Location of Hydroelectric Facilities in Maryland

Figure 2-11

Wave and tidal power also harness the energy of moving water, specifically in ocean settings. Wave energy facilities typically float in the water and employ the vertical motion of the waves to create energy. Tidal power is produced by tidal stream generators, which capture the kinetic energy of moving water caused by tidal currents or the fluctuation of the sea level due to the tide. They work much the same way as wind power generators, but because water is much denser than air and tides are steady and almost continuous, the generators can produce significantly more power. Maryland has limited tidal resources at its Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic coast sites. Some potential exists for small-scale projects. Various technical obstacles and the relative immaturity of wave and tidal power technologies also limit potential development.


In the energy production sector, biomass refers to biological material that can be used as fuel for transportation, steam heat, and electricity generation. Biomass fuels are most commonly created from wood and agricultural wastes, alcohol fuels, animal wastes, and municipal solid waste. Biomass can be combusted to produce heat and electricity, transformed into a liquid fuel such as biodiesel, ethanol, or methanol, or transformed into a gaseous fuel such as methane.


Waste-to-energy (WTE) facilities generate energy from municipal solid waste. While the precise details of the processes may vary, the general method involves combusting the waste in order to heat boilers and create high-pressure steam, which is used to turn a turbine and generate electricity. In addition to the energy produced, WTE plants typically reduce the volume of incoming waste by about 90 percent and the weight of incoming waste by about 75 percent.

Until 2011, WTE was classified as a Tier 2 resource under the Maryland RPS, but the Maryland General Assembly enacted legislation that made WTE a Tier 1 resource and added refuse-derived fuel as a Tier 1 resource. See Section 5.1.1 for information on the Maryland RPS Tier 1 and Tier 2 requirements.

There are 85 WTE facilities currently operating nationwide according to the Energy Recovery Council, including three major facilities in Maryland that are certified under Maryland’s RPS. As displayed in Table 2-6, there is also one WTE plant in the planning and development stages in Maryland. WTE facilities are heavily regulated due to various environmental impacts. As an energy source, WTE is similar to coal and oil electricity generators in terms of carbon dioxide (CO2), sulfur dioxide (SO2), and nitric oxide (NO) emissions. However, WTE facilities can also contribute to the environmental deposition of mercury, dioxin, furan, and other toxic metals and organic compounds unless adequate pollution controls are installed.

Table 2-6 Waste-to-Energy Facilities in Maryland

Facility Name (Location) Project Status Nameplate
Capacity (MW)
Montgomery County Resource
Recovery Facility
(Dickerson, Maryland)
Operational 68 Covanta
Wheelabrator Baltimore Refuse Facility
(Baltimore, Maryland)
Operational 65 Wheelabrator
Harford Waste-to-Energy Facility
(Joppa, Maryland)
Operational 1.2 Energy Recovery Operations
Fairfield Renewable Energy Power Plant
(Baltimore, Maryland)
Permitted 140 Energy Answers International

Note: The Harford Waste-to-Energy Facility generates steam from the processing of the waste and sells it to the Edgewood Area of the U.S. Army’s Aberdeen Proving Ground. Since it does not sell electricity into the PJM grid, it is not considered an eligible Maryland RPS resource.

Landfill Gas

Landfill gas (LFG) is created when organic solid wastes decompose in a landfill. The amount of gas produced in a landfill depends upon the characteristics of the waste, the climate, the residence time of the waste, and operating practices at the landfill. If no capture or extraction measures are employed, LFG will be released into the atmosphere as a combination of methane and CO2, with small amounts of non-methane organic components. If the LFG is extracted and combusted (e.g., flared or used for energy), then the methane produced in the landfill is converted entirely to CO2. Both CO2 and methane are greenhouse gases (GHGs); however, methane has 20 times the global warming potential of CO2, so converting methane to CO2 provides an important benefit. Many landfills capture LFG and simply burn it off in a flare to prevent a potentially explosive buildup of gas. Combusting LFG instead to generate power makes use of this otherwise wasted energy and also reduces odors, contaminants, and GHGs. Table 2-7 lists the LFG-to-energy projects that are currently operating in Maryland. Not listed in the table is the Millersville LFG project, which collects LFG and sells it directly to the Army’s Fort Meade base to fuel operations at the base.

Table 2-7 Landfill Gas Projects in Maryland

Landfill Name and
Total Waste in Place
Project Status LFG Energy
Start Date
LFG Energy
Project Type
MW Capacity Project Developer
Brown Station Road
(Prince George’s County)
6,964,110 Operational
Reciprocating Engine
Reciprocating Engine
PG County
Eastern/White Marsh
(Baltimore County)
5,213,000 Operational 2006 Reciprocating Engine 2.5 Pepco Energy Services
Newland Park
(Wicomico County)
1,238,743 Operational 2007 Reciprocating Engine 2.6 INGENCO
Central Landfill
(Worcester County)
1,244,656 Shutdown 2008 Reciprocating Engine 2.0 Curtis Engine
(Montgomery County)
4,800,000 Shutdown
Reciprocating Engine
Reciprocating Engine
SCS Engineers
The Oaks
(Montgomery County)
6,874,060 Operational 2009 Reciprocating Engine 2.4 SCS Engineers
Quarantine Road
(Baltimore County)
10,632,202 Operational 2009 Cogeneration 1.5 Ameresco Federal Solutions
Reichs Ford Landfill
(Frederick County)
3,940,387 Operational 2010 Reciprocating Engine 2.1 Energenic-US
Sandy Hill
(Prince George’s County)
5,125,946 Shutdown
Toro Energy
(Anne Arundel County)
2,888,404 Operational 2012 Reciprocating Engine 3.2 Northeast Maryland Waste Disposal Authority
Alpha Ridge (Howard County) 2,276,586 Operational 2012 Reciprocating Engine 1.1 Pepco Energy Services, Inc.

Notes: The Brown Station, Gude, and Sandy Hill landfills are closed and are no longer accepting waste, but the LFG facilities continue to operate. LFG from Sandy Hill is combusted to generate heat only, not electricity. The capacity rating of Newland Park reflects the capacity rating for single fuel/LFG mode landfill gas and not the maximum capacity rating of 6 MW which includes use of diesel fuel.

Global Wind Energy Council, “China Wind Power Blows Past EU,” February 10, 2016,

GATS is a database maintained by PJM that lists the generation attributes (e.g., time, facility, fuel type) for all MWh generated in the PJM territory and outside the PJM territory if the generator is eligible for a PJM-state’s RPS and has registered as such with PJM.

Counties in Maryland with Wind Energy Ordinances

Map of Maryland Counties highlighted in green for Ordinances

Growth of Solar Energy in Maryland

Solar energy generation capacity in Maryland has gone from 0.1 MW in 2007 to 244 MW in 2014 due, in large part, to Maryland’s implementation of a solar carve-out under the Maryland Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS). As a mechanism to further accelerate this growth, the General Assembly passed a bill in 2012 that advanced the final compliance date for the 2 percent solar carve-out in the Maryland RPS from 2022 to 2020. To meet the accelerated schedule, the solar carve-out of Maryland’s RPS increased, beginning in 2013 and continuing through 2020. Likely attributed to the accelerated schedule, solar generation in Maryland increased 263 percent, or approximately 147,700 MWh between 2012 and 2014.

Solar Generation in Maryland, 2008-2014

Solar Generation in Maryland, 2008-2014

Source: Maryland PSC, Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard Report, Various Years. Appendix A in this publication lists aggregate SRECs retired in Maryland.

Solar Energy Facility at Mount St. Mary’s University

Mount St. Mary’s University and Constellation Energy partnered to build one of the largest solar facilities on any private college campus in the United States. As part of the State of Maryland’s Generating Clean Horizons initiative, Constellation Energy developed a 17.7 MW solar PV installation on land leased from Mount St. Mary’s University in Emmitsburg, Maryland. In an agreement with Constellation, the University leased 100 of its 1,400 acres on the east campus to house the PV facility, which is expected to create more than 22,000 MWh per year. The facility began commercial operation in mid-2012. The University System of Maryland, Maryland Department of General Services, and Mount St. Mary’s University purchases the output of the facility under a 20-year power purchase agreement. The State buys 16.1 MW, while the University purchases output from the remaining 1.6 MW.

Image from Solar Farm to Mary's Mountain

Hydroelectric Potential at Existing Dams

A report by the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) found that adding powerhouses to 54,000 existing U.S. dams that do not currently have generation facilities could garner up to 12.6 GW — enough renewable energy to power about 12.6 million homes. Moreover, most of these dams can be converted to generation facilities with minimal impact to critical habitats or wilderness areas. Several small (& 30 MW) sites are available in Maryland. One project is already in development. In December 2010, Fairlawn Hydroelectric Company filed an application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for an original license to construct, operate and maintain its proposed Jennings Randolph Hydroelectric Project. The 13.4 MW project will be located at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Jennings Randolph Dam and Lake in Garrett County, Maryland and Mineral County, West Virginia. The Jennings Randolph Dam (also known as Bloomington Lake Dam) is on the North Branch of the Potomac River near the towns of Barnum, West Virginia, and Swanton, Maryland, and was completed in 1985 by the Corps (Baltimore Division) for the purposes of flood control, recreation, and natural resource management. The proposed project would occupy approximately 5.0 acres of federal land under the jurisdiction of the Corps. FERC issued a 50-year operating license on April 30, 2012; construction must begin by April 2016 for Fairlawn to keep its hydro license.

The project has been unable to move forward as it has been awaiting approval by the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers since December 2013. In an effort to extend the hydro license, Representative David McKinley introduced legislation that would extend the permit for construction for up to six years. As of September 2016, the permit extension for the hydro license is included as part of an energy bill currently before the Energy Conference Committee. If the bill does not pass, FERC has the opportunity to extend the permit.

Jennings Randolph Dam

Randolph Dam

Conduit Hydroelectric Power in Maryland

The City of Frostburg received an exemption from FERC licensing to construct the 75 kW Frostburg Low Head Project, a small conduit hydropower project located on Frostburg’s municipal raw water line in Allegany County. The plant uses the water main already in place on the eastern slope of Big Savage Mountain. As the water comes down the mountain, it turns the turbine, generating electricity. The project is expected to generate approximately 240 MWh annually. The construction of the plant was completed in 2012 and is fully operational.