Solar Saturday Event to be Held in Friendsville

Last Updated on Jul 12, 2016 at 9:54am | Energy

On Saturday, July 23rd, a Solar Saturday event will be held at the Mountain Hollow Health Food Store in Friendsville at 132 Walnut Street from 10:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. The Friendsville Renewable Energy Effort (FREE) is sponsoring the event.
The day’s activities will include presentations from several Mountain Maryland residents who own solar systems on the process of contracting and having photovoltaic (PV) panels installed on a home. At least one solar installer will be present with a power point presentation on the details involved. There will be a presentation on the tax incentives offered by the government and Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SREC’s) paid to the solar system owner.

There will also be a presentation on energy saving initiatives offered to residents from the Maryland Energy Administration including a free quick energy audit of a home for Potomac Edison customers.

The goal of Solar Saturday is to get local residents to sign up for an estimate on their own solar system. A large group of individuals signing up will enable a potential contractor to lower his/her price through bulk purchasing. This meeting is for all local residents, although FREE will only be discussing Maryland installations as each state currently has its own solar regulations. People who are served by Potomac Edison and Somerset Rural Electric Cooperative will both be eligible for the benefits of a group purchasing plan.

FREE is an all volunteer subcommittee of the Economic Development Committee of the Friendsville Town Council and there will be no charge to either the contractor or the buyer for their services. It will cost nothing to sign up and estimates are free. Light refreshments will be offered at the event.

! FREE was formed in early 2015 with the goal of making the Town of Friendsville energy independent. Several different ways of producing renewable energy have been researched by the committee including solar, wind, hydro and bio-gas. While wind, hydro-electric and bio-gas remain on the to-do list, the committee has determined that easiest and least intensive electrical generation available to the general public are solar photo voltaic panels.

The cost of solar is going down and Garrett County has several solar projects planned or actually being constructed now. Though cloud cover is frequent in Garrett County, solar panels still produce well in this location. Germany has about the same number of peak solar hours per day as Alaska but they still produce about one half of the solar power produced in the world today.

A larger solar installation is also planned by FREE to supply the municipal needs of Friendsville, including street lighting, electricity for the town park and the town municipal buildings. FREE has collected donations to pay for the engineering needed for a flood plain construction permit to build a 50,000 watt solar array to be located along the edge of the new town parking area on the west side of town.

Chairman of FREE, Rob Smith, says, “The municipal array has been designed to be as unobtrusive as possible so that residents on the west side of town will not lose their view of the sunset.” The array is planned to be located in the southwest corner of the parking area.

“The town can pay for the 50 kilowatt array simply by investing the dollars they would normally pay to the power company for their electric bill,” Smith says. “This way their monthly cost for electricity will remain constant for the 12 to 14 years it will take to pay off the cost of construction and after the array is paid for the town will have free electricity for the remaining life of the array, 12 to 15 years, netting the town a tidy sum of money in avoided operating costs.”

On July 18th the FREE committee will present their proposal to build the array to the Friendsville Town Council. FREE can be contacted at or 301-746-5625. Mountain Hollow Health Food can be called at 301-746-5124.