An 8,500-panel solar array is soaking up the rays at the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission’s water treatment plant in Germantown.
The array was unveiled to the public with an event on Nov. 6. According to commission spokesman Jerry Irvine, the utility has been interested in solar power since 2009, when it studied the possibility of an array at multiple sites.
The utility issued a request for proposals for the Germantown array and another water treatment plant in Upper Marlboro.
The solar arrays “cost WSSC nothing,” Irvine said. Washington Gas Energy Systems, Inc. paid for the construction and materials, and Rockville-based Standard Solar built the grid for the array.
Washington Gas owns and operates the solar installation. The commission has a 20-year agreement with them to buy the power that comes from the array, he said.
The Germantown array will produce 2 megawatts of power per year, about 17 percent of the water treatment plant’s needs. The solar panels are mounted on the ground at an angle to catch the most sunlight. The panels are spread out over 10 acres on the site, Irvine said.
The land below the solar panels had been part of WSSC’s Seneca Wastewater Treatment Plant in Germantown before the solar panels were installed.