Some Neighbors Concerned with Somerset County Solar Project - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Some Neighbors Concerned with Somerset County Solar Project

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A Somerset County road which could be altered to install solar infrastructure.  (Photo: Bill Mich) A Somerset County road which could be altered to install solar infrastructure. (Photo: Bill Mich)

SOMERSET COUNTY, Md. - A group of concerned residents in Somerset County are voicing their concerns over a roads agreement between the county and a solar energy company.  The group known as "Safe for Somerset" believes the agreement is one-sided and the county doesn't get its fair share.

Great Bay Solar I, LLC, an affiliate of Pioneer Green Energy, plans to bring a solar energy project to Somerset County.  The company has signed leases with various property holders in the county and the solar panels would be built on those different plots of land.  According to the project developer for Great Bay Solar, in order to move forward with the project, the company needs to bury some cables underground along county roads.  An agreement was made between Somerset County and the Great Bay Solar, but the organization "Safe for Somerset" believes the agreement is unfair for Somerset.

"It means we are held hostage to a company that is here for its own good, its own income.  And that the county itself is not being counted first," said Randolph George, a member of "Safe for Somerset."

The agreement state Great Bay Solar can erect, install, construct, remove, or repair along some county roads to install the required infrastructure.  Great Bay Solar can also trim, cut down, or remove all tress or vegetation in the way.  Plus, the energy company can create openings or trenches to complete the required work.  Folks with "Safe for Somerset" think this gives the company too much power in the county.

"We're concerned more so that profits of private individuals don't override the quality of life and the health in this county for local residents," said Rev. Charles Bagley, of "Safe for Somerset."

But according to the project manager for Great Bay Solar, Somerset County is benefiting from this work.  First, the company had to pay for the easement rights to bury the cables underground.  Plus, the company must improve the road ways they use, all doing so with no cost to local tax payers.

There is also already an agreement in place to sell 75 megawatts of energy from the solar project in Somerset County to the U.S. General Services Administration.  Construction is expected to begin next spring.

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