by Jeff Lemieux
Several years ago, I wrote about trying to transform some of Greenbelt’s empty parking lots into usable space.
Here’s an idea: what about community *solar farms?
I have four locations in mind so far: 1) the southmost (virtually unused) field at Northway fields, or at least the huge outfield section, 2) the far back parking lot at Beltway Plaza, 3) the large unused parking lot at the north end of Capital Office Park, and 4) the hidden parking lot below the Greenbelt Marriott.
OK, the Northway fields site isn’t a parking lot, but it is empty most of the time. I think one of those huge ballfields – or even part of one – could be put to good use collecting solar power for Greenbelt.
I don’t know much about how a Greenbelt solar coop would be organized. For example, I own a couple panels via a solar farm organized by these guys: Arcadia Power. It seems to me that Greenbelt could do something similar. We could build it and share the power. Or we could arrange site leases and share the power generated with the companies that do the installations, like SolarCity or Sunrun.
This being Greenbelt, I’m sure of two things:
- Somebody already knows way more about this than I do, and
- There will be lots of opinions and debate.
So let the discussion begin! I think even having a debate about solar farming in Greenbelt, with analysis about whether you’d need county permits, relief from parking minimums etc., would be awesome.
I raised the suggestion with a representative of Beltway Plaza, who indicated preliminary interest with an important condition: that the solar installations could be movable or relocatable elsewhere, or that any community obligations could be terminated at a reasonable cost in the event of redevelopment of their parking lot. That’s a helpful start, I think. I don’t know whether the owners at Capital Office Park would be similarly interested, but we could ask.
What do you think?
*Jeff recommends these sources of information about solar farms: