Case Studies:

Choptank Electrical Cooperative

  • System Specs | 503 kW | 1,596 panel system
  • System Production | Offsets 100% of the building's power needs
  • Environmental Benefits | 496 fewer tons of CO2 annually

LEED’ing By Example

The Choptank Electric Cooperative wanted its new regional service center to be LEED Silver Certified—could a solar array in an unused, adjoining field help?

The Choptank Electric Cooperative (CEC) has a history of being on the leading edge of electrical developments in Maryland. Formed in 1938 (under its original name, Choptank Cooperative), the cooperative was designed to electrify rural Maryland—a revolutionary idea then.

Since that time, it has continued its leadership in electricity distribution to serve its 53,000 member/owners in the most effective way possible, all the while remaining sensitive to its place near the center of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.

While the watershed was a dumping ground for heavy industry in the past, it has increasingly become cleaner in recent years, thanks to the dedicated efforts of activists and organizations like CEC.

So when they decided to build a new Regional Service Center, which hosts operations serving members on Maryland’s lower Eastern Shore, and make it a LEED Silver Certified building, they had to choose an energy source that wouldn’t interfere with that goal.

Leave No Land Unused

Trying to earn LEED certification is not a project for the faint-hearted. It’s an often arduous process that can take years. But once a building achieves LEED certification, it reaches an exalted status within the environmental community. Or as LEED’s website puts it:

Leaders around the world have made LEED the most widely used third-party verification for green buildings, with around 1.85 million square feet being certified daily.

To power the building, the CEC Board of Directors wanted to choose a source that would contribute to meeting LEED’s strict qualifications. They had a 1.2-acre plot of land next to the center and thought, “What if we put a solar array on it? Could we power the building that way?”

They called on Standard Solar—a leading solar energy company specializing in the development and financing of solar electric systems nationwide with whom they had worked before—to help make the decision.

After Standard Solar’s expert team of developers and engineers looked at the site, they recommended a 503-kilowatt, 1,596 panel system that could produce 706 megawatt hours per year. Along with other energy efficiency measures, the array would help CEC’s Regional Service Center achieve the LEED certification it desired.

Well On Its Way

The array, completed earlier this year, has been praised by the board chairman as a significant step toward the desired certification, although the regional center still has a ways to go.

“We are extremely satisfied with this new facility and how it will provide better service to our southern territory members,” says Olin Davis, board chairman of Choptank Electric. “Having a building powered 100% with solar energy is something we’re proud of - and we couldn’t have done it without Standard Solar’s guidance every step of the way.”

For its part, Standard Solar was pleased to be part of the process. After all, as a Rockville, Md.-based company, they work and play in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, too, and have a vested interest in keeping it as clean as possible.

“We applaud this great effort by our partner Choptank Electric Cooperative to pursue clean energy to power their new facility,” said Tony Clifford, Chief Development Officer for Standard Solar. “They are setting a high standard for other electricity providers to reach, but that’s not a surprise: CEC has been leading for nearly 80 years.”

The Choptank Electric Cooperative (CEC)wanted to power its regional service center with clean energy to help its efforts to get the building LEED Silver Certified. Could solar be the solution?

To help CEC decide if solar was the right answer, they engaged with Standard Solar, who suggested that a 503-kilowatt, 1,596 panel system could do the trick. The array is expected to produce 706 MWh per year, which would power 53 typical Maryland homes—more than enough to power the center.

Though the process of earning its LEED certification is far from over, CEC agrees that its solar array has moved it far down the road.

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