As farmers continue to look for ways to diversify their incomes, many are turning to solar as a way to transform unused or underused land into a new income source. At Standard Solar, our wealth of experience and expertise allows us to provide guidance for farmers throughout the United States who are looking to add solar on their properties. For example, we recently provided the financing to help Fritz Family Farms in New Windsor, Maryland, turn 12 low-yield acres of their 400-acre hay, grain and cattle farm into a 2.7 megawatt (MW) solar array.

In 2017, Gov. Larry Hogan honored Fritz Family Farms for their commitment to farming and leadership in preserving agricultural land and presented them with a Century Farm designation for farming the same land for more than 100 years (the land was originally settled by the Fritz family in 1912).

In 2019, they decided to use some of their little-used acreage to create a stable revenue stream for the farm.

“This project provides economic benefit to the landowner, operator and community while harnessing clean renewable energy,” said Jeffrey Fritz, Fritz Family Farms.

Standard Solar, with help from Earth and Air Technologies and Ogos Energy, developed, built and owns the single-axis tracking solar array, which is configured for Maryland’s virtual Aggregate Net Energy Metering (ANEM) program—an innovative program set up by Maryland’s 2019 Clean Energy Jobs Act.

“This solar project is a win-win scenario for all—it is transforming a portion of low yield land into 20-year predictable revenue for a family-run farm while providing affordable, reliable power to the region’s public water authority,” said John Finnerty, director of business development, Standard Solar. “It also highlights how smart solar project siting practices can benefit agriculture, complement farm operations and land use.”

Though this is not the farms’ first foray into the solar space—they’ve been running the farm from their own solar array since 2014—this is the first time they’ve sold the power from a solar array to an outside offtaker.

WSSC Water, one of the largest water and wastewater utilities in the nation, is purchasing the power from Fritz Family Farms in an effort to meet their own internal sustainability goals as well as providing additional value to their Maryland customers. WSSC has worked with Standard Solar on four other projects.

“Energy management is critical to WSSC Water,” said Robert Taylor, energy manager, WSSC Water. “Investing in solar energy pays dividends both economically and environmentally as it lowers our dependence on carbon-based fuels.”

If you’re looking to transform farmland into a solar-energy powerhouse, our experts can guide you through the process every step of the way.