Solar project to power Howard County church, college and customers

A new solar project in Howard County will power a church, college and residential customers while helping sustain the bee population.

HOWARD COUNTY, MD — A solar energy project is underway in Howard County that will provide electricity to St. Mary’s Coptic Church in Cooksville, Loyola University Maryland in Baltimore and residential customers throughout the county.

Chaberton Energy, a Maryland-based solar developer, and Pivot Energy, a national renewable energy owner and operator, have teamed up to bring a community project called Catherine Community Solar to Howard County. The 19-acre project site is located on the grounds of St. Mary Coptic Orthodox Church.


“Pivot Energy shares our passion for the energy transition and works tirelessly to help communities gain access to local, affordable, clean energy,” said Mike Doniger, Chief Operating Officer of Chaberton Energy. “This project showcases the creativity of our development team as it combines three distinct solar business models into one project—a community solar project, a nonprofit power purchase agreement, and on-site electricity offset. We are grateful to St. Mary’s, Howard County officials, Loyola, and many others who worked together to make this a reality.”

The Catherine project will provide a total of 4.3 megawatts direct current (MWdc), enough to power the equivalent of 750 homes. Community solar subscribers will have access to 3.4 MWdc of power through the Maryland Community Solar program. Loyola will have access to 750 kilowatts direct current (kWdc) under a renewable power purchase agreement through the Maryland Aggregate Net Energy Metering program, and the rest will be used to load balance a local church.

“Community solar projects offer a unique alternative to traditional solar installations and an alternative to standard electric bills,” Erica Brinker, Chief Commercial and Sustainability Officer at Chaberton Energy, told Patch. “Unlike the solar panels commonly found on residential roofs or the sprawling arrays used by utility companies, community solar arrays fall somewhere in between in terms of size. These projects allow local community members to subscribe to the electricity generated by the array. In exchange for their subscription, participants receive credits on their electric bills, which translates into savings while supporting clean energy adoption.

“In other words, the subscriptions collectively cover the full cost of the energy generated by the solar panels. This is typically cheaper for consumers than buying energy directly from a supplier, which can be generated from any fuel source, including fossil fuels,” Brinker added.

Just a few miles from Project Catherine is Chaberton’s Project Friendship in West Friendship, also in Howard County, which produces 6.25 MWdc, Brinker Patch said. Project Friendship launched in early 2023 and serves local community residents and small businesses through the Community Solar Maryland program, as well as Loyola University Maryland through the Aggregate Net Energy Metering program.

“Like all of our projects in the Mid-Atlantic region, the project includes pollinator habitat, which will help restore bee populations and increase productivity for area farms,” Brinker said.

“The Catherine Project is helping leading institutions in the community gain access to clean, affordable, local energy,” added Brit Gibson, Pivot Energy’s Chief Operating Officer. “Our partnership with Chaberton and the willingness of St. Mary Church and Loyola University of Maryland to think outside the box made this unique solar project possible.”

Project leaders worked with partners and the community before developing the site and shaping the project. For example, by limiting the solar panel area to unused portions of the existing site, project designers preserved the church’s main sports fields. Land lease payments for the solar installations will also benefit the St. Mary community.

Chaberton Energy was founded in 2020 by Stefano Ratti, Senake Gajamera and Mike Doniger.