Solar Contractor

Maxwell Neely, shown here at the FNP Community Gardens, is an independent contractor who helps people, businesses and organizations transfer their utility bills to solar through a solar farm.

Maxwell Neely wants to help save the world through sustainable practices and renewable energy — and one of the easiest ways to help, he said, is to switch to solar. He’s making it easier through his company

Solar energy is often deemed expensive, especially with new panels and installation involved. But Neely, as an independent contractor for Common Energy, is offering a much more simple solution that’s guaranteed to be cheaper than a traditional utility bill.

“I want people to know that community solar is designed in such a way that the panels don’t even need to go on your roof,” Neely said. “They’re all done through offsite community solar farms.”

Common Energy has three solar farms in Maryland, located in Bowie, Hancock and Elkton, which service users of BGE, Potomac Edison and Delmarva. Each farm can provide power for several hundred homes.

When residents make the switch, their service provider buys solar power from the farm. Then, the state of Maryland gives the customer a credit equal to their average power bill. then invoices for 90 percent of the credit, and the customer keeps the other 10 percent. Low-income households are eligible to keep 25 percent.

This leads to a savings of between $5 and $20 a month.

“So it’s just a great way to make a really impactful decision in your consumer habits to switch save money and help save the planet,” Neely said.

This week, Neely is holding an event in conjunction with the Ready for 100 Campaign to get as many Frederick Country residents signed up as possible.

Businesses that contact Neely before Thursday at 8 p.m. will be featured as an eco-friendly business on the Frederick Energy website. Neely will also provide them with custom content that they can use to brand themselves as eco-friendly.

In addition to businesses and homeowners, renters are more than welcome to participate in community solar as long as their utility bill is in their name and not their landlord’s.

Organizations such as churches can also enroll.

“It’s designed ... so that just about anyone can purchase solar energy if they would like to,” Neely said. “And when they do make that decision the incentive is that they will save money on power in addition to the clean energy benefits.”

Neely is hoping to expand in the future to other markets, including in New York and Chicago. He thinks that the demand for solar is only going to increase as the effects of climate change become more drastic.

For now, he’s working to make sure more people know that solar energy is available to them at no extra financial burden.

“My goal is to make sure people know about this and to make sure they know that there’s no catch,” Neely said. “Everything is done in partnership with state-funded programs through the state of Maryland. And when they switch, they save. It’s that easy.”

Follow Erika Riley on Twitter: @ej_riley

(4) comments


The very place you want to install solar panels is on the roof of a home. Frederick County, the bastion of sustainability, makes it virtually impossible to construct a solar farm. The county was overruled a short time ago on the denial of a proposed solar farm. Nobody wants a solar farm in their backyard no matter how green they proclaim themselves to be!!


jloo, I have a 1.2 acre property so there is some distance from my neighbors, but I'd happily trade the houses around me for a solar farm. Solar farms don't have people riding their ATVs even in the dark, they don't have people having loud get togethers going until 11:00 at night making it impossible to sleep with the windows open, etc.


No where does this article state the cost of a kilowatt hour. Why? Last I knew, using solar energy would cost about $.02 a kilowatt hour. That's about 25% more than Potomac Edison's standard offer.


Dick, what are you talking about? I don't know where you got the solar kWh number but assuming it is correct, Potomac Edison's standard offer 6.016 cents per kWh from 6/1 - 9/30. Now just their generation price (based on my 2/24 bill which is the last time I had to purchase electricity) was 3.03 cents per kWh not 2 cents/kWh. Therefore, it would appear to be more than solar, not less if your 2 cents for solar is correct.

BTW, the cost per kWh can be complicated because it depends on certain assumptions. The cost per kW is a more direct comparison.

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