GROUND MOUNT SYSTEM
Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission
- System Specs | 5MW
- System Production | 7,090 MWh annually
- Environmental Benefits | Offsets CO2 from 550,120 gallons of gasoline annually
Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC) has been a long-standing advocate of renewable energy. Recently, WSSC decided to add solar power at two of its wastewater treatment plants to broaden its use of alternative energy sources, further reduce its carbon footprint and save ratepayers money. WSSC partnered with Standard Solar (SSI) and Washington Gas Energy Systems, Inc. (WGES) to develop 5 megawatts (MW) of solar PV power at their Western Branch plant in Upper Marlboro, MD and Seneca plant in Germantown, MD.
Established in 1918, WSSC is among the largest water and wastewater utilities in the nation servicing 1.8 million residents in Prince George’s and Montgomery counties in Maryland. With a network of nearly 5,600 miles of fresh water pipeline and more than 5,400 miles of sewer pipeline, WSSC was interested in identifying a source of renewable energy that could contribute to its sustainability goals while making good business sense and adding value for their ratepayers. WSSC sought to partner with a trusted and experienced solar energy provider who could successfully develop a project that minimized energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions; a company with previous success in solar project development that offered financing solutions that lined up well with the goals of WSSC.
SSI was selected as the trusted provider to bring solar power to the two sites. Through a power purchase agreement with WGES, the task of bringing solar to Western Branch and Seneca began. SSI designed and installed the solar power equipment at the plants while WGES owns and operates the solar installations. WSSC purchases the power from WGES at specific prices for the next 20 years and is projected to save about $3.5 million dollars over the life of the 20-year contract by paying less per kWh for solar when compared to conventional electricity.
Combined, both systems produce approximately 7,090 megawatt-hours (MWh) of energy annually, enough to power about 672 U.S. homes and eliminate greenhouse gas emissions from 550,120 gallons of gasoline per year. The solar systems are forecasted to cover about 12% of Western Branch’s electrical load and about 17% of Seneca’s electrical load. Combined, both solar projects are expected to reduce WSSC’s overall carbon footprint by approximately 3.5 percent. As strong advocates of renewable energy, WSSC also uses wind energy to power another one of their plants and will continue to evalu¬ate other opportunities to use alternative energy sources.