Through Dick Williams’s recent work with MEEP (Maryland Episcopal Environmental Partners), he became introduced to an initiative being considered by some of largest electric users in the Diocese (the “Group”).
Barbara Cates, Dick and Grey+ attended a presentation to the Group on June 5th by a co-founder and a vice president of Power52 Foundation and Power52 Energy Services (sister companies), and by a Redeemer parishioner on behalf of MEEP. The related companies organize and pay for workforce development training for solar Photo-Voltaic (PV) systems, and develop solar PV fields for electric power users. Power52 was founded shortly after the Freddy Gray riots, but a co-founder has prior experience in the renewable energy business.
Power52’s leaders have proposed that the Group commit to buying up to 90% of typical, annual electricity demand each from a solar PV farm to be built in Howard County. Due to the purchasing power of the larger among the Group, Memorial would get a lower rate per kilowatt hour than we are currently paying for 100% renewable wind plus BGE charges for transmission and delivery. A longer-term commitment is necessary for the “economics” of the deal. Any “overage” in demand, such as a string of hot summer days, not available from the solar PV farm would be met by Memorial’s current renewable (wind) contract with Constellation, or other in the future.
The big bonus is that Power52 is training 3 at-risk employment groups—Veterans, returning citizens and high school dropouts—in solar PV systems design, construction and maintenance. Graduates of the 13-week training program, with certificates in hand, have been proven to be imminently employable. The average graduation rate is 87.5% among 82 Baltimore City residents in previous classes taught by Living Classrooms’ Workforce Development Team, accredited by both the NCCER and OSHA programs. The current class numbers 40.
Each entity of the Group has been asked to sign a Letter of Intent (LOI) so that the solar PV field developer, Power52 Energy Services, can attract financiers/owners with better prospects for a deal. The process can run four to six months.
At the June 18th Vestry meeting, Grey presented the Power52 program. A motion to enter into a LOI, the next step, was approved unanimously. The LOI is not binding, and no contract would be executed until an acceptable deal is worked out according to preliminary terms suggested to the Group, and approved by our Vestry.
Solar PV fields have or are being constructed under this program for Living Classrooms Foundation, the Baltimore City Government, the Baltimore City Public Schools, Christ Church Harbor Apartments and the Columbia Association, among others.