Maryland environmental officials have denied a permit application for a solar project proposed on hundreds of acres of forest in Charles County, blocking construction of a controversial Georgetown University-sponsored solar farm.
State Environment Secretary Ben Grumbles said the 500-acre project could harm water quality and set back progress in improving the health of the Chesapeake Bay. More than 200 acres of trees would have been cleared to make way for the 32-megawatt project.
“This is an unacceptable trade-off for the environmental benefits of clean energy,” Grumbles said in a statement.
Representatives for Origis Energy USA, the company developing the project on behalf of Georgetown, declined to comment on the decision.
Miami-based Origis said it planned the 100,000-panel solar farm in an area of Charles County known as the Nanjemoy peninsula to avoid controversies that have developed in other parts of the state when solar farms have been proposed on active farmland. The company said much of the forest was immature and of poor quality, though opponents of the project disagree.