Solar farm in Baltimore City to power university medical system as well as low-income area residents


WeSolar, a Baltimore-based WMBE (women-owned and/or minority-owned business enterprise), focuses on delivering community solar energy to underrepresented communities. The company has enlisted the University of Maryland Medical System (UMMS) as a development partner, which will pay a foundational commitment of $10,000 per month for up to 18 months to help with construction of the solar farm at a location to be determined in Baltimore City.

WeSolar was founded on Juneteenth 2020 by Kristal Hansley, who, after a career in government learning how solar could reduce the cost of electricity for households, decided to get involved with community solar. She began at Neighborhood Sun, a regional solar company in Maryland, where she worked with solar developers and Baltimore City leadership to help thousands of low- to moderate-income residents save on their utility bills.

“The Community Solar model directly challenges the hundred-year-old monopoly where utility companies dominated the energy industry,” said Hansley. “Our company’s mission is about equity.”

The Baltimore City solar farm is expected to generate 8 MW of energy, of which UMMS has committed to purchasing up to 50%. The rest will be available to UMMS team members who earn less than $67,000 and are connected to the Baltimore Gas & Electric grid. These residents will receive a discount of up to 25%.

“Not only does this project make good business and economic sense for our System, but it is also an opportunity to demonstrate our responsibility as anchor institutions in the communities in which we are privileged to serve,” said Mohan Suntha, MD, MBA, President and CEO of UMMS.

This is the second solar energy-related project for the medical center. UMMS currently receives about 2% of its electricity from a 25-acre solar farm on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. In 2013, UMMS entered into a 20-year power purchase agreement with Bithenergy and Constellation on the 3.66-MW solar generation project in Somerset County, Maryland.

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