Kent Conservation and Preservation Alliance (KCPA) is a private, nonprofit 501(c)(3) charitable corporation in good standing with the charitable division of the office of the Secretary of State of Maryland. The organization is managed solely by the all-volunteer Board of Directors. The support for our organization comes from our donors and members.
Kent Conservation and Preservation Alliance (KCPA) was established on the foundational organization Keep Kent Scenic, INC (KKS), which was formed when Apex Clean Energy through Mills Branch Wind, LLC, proposed to blanket over 7,000 acres of land in Kennedyville with 50 500-foot turbines. The KKS Board of Directors (BOD) galvanized the community. The organization held public forums, distributed yard signs, collected signatures, wrote to legislators, sought support from other organizations and individuals, and built a “farmer wall” of opposition that stopped the acquisition of land leases by Mills Branch. As a result, Mills Branch Wind stopped pursuing their original goal.
OneEnergy, a solar developer from Washington State, applied to Kent County for a building permit for 6.0 MW of solar in the Employment/Industrial Zone. They agreed to construct the project according to all the provisions of the Kent County Land Use Ordinance. The project needed a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN), and in the application to the Maryland Public Service Commission (PSC) they requested a waiver to the Forest Conservation Act (FCA) Our organization felt that was not in the best interest of the County or in keeping with the purpose of the FCA, therefore we attended the public hearing to voice our opposition, joining with the Power Plant Research Program (PPRP) that also felt the FCA should not be waived. The opposition was not to the building of the solar project, because they were building within the correct land zone for utility scale solar, the opposition was strictly for the waiver. The decision on the FCA is currently in appeal.
In December of 2015, Mills Branch Solar, LLC was created by Apex Clean Energy to replace Mills Branch Wind, LLC, both incorporated in Delaware. Mills Branch Solar submitted an application to the Maryland PSC for a CPCN to generate 60 MW of industrial solar energy on approximately 370 acres of prime farmland zoned exclusively for agricultural use. The corporation, with the application to the PSC, was requesting preemption of Kent County’s Land Use Ordinances (LUO). Kent County does not preclude utility-scale solar; the primary question was appropriate location. In 2010 the Kent County Commissioners appointed a Renewable Energy Task Force (RETF) to delve into how Kent County would allow for renewable energy projects. The recommendations of the RETF were adopted that allowed for utility scale solar within many LUO districts of the County without fragmenting our agricultural land, witch is the preferred use. Given that there is land available under the Kent County LUO made the preemption Mills Branch Solar was asking for unnecessary, perhaps not where this corporation wished it to be but none the less available. Therefore KCPA joined Kent County Commissioners as interveners in PSC case # 9411. Our opposition was based not only on the violation of the County’s LUO, but also the impact the location would have on the critically needed supply of farmland in the county with the intrusion of this industrial footprint in a priority preservation area, as well as the adverse impact on the important cultural landscape of the Chesterville/Morgan Creek district of the Stories of the Chesapeake Heritage Area. Currently the outcome of this project and the issue of preemption is being decided by a Public Utility Law Judge. During this transition from wind to solar by Apex, KKS transitioned the name of the organization to Kent Conservation and Preservation Alliance (KCPA).
The remaining 39 MW of power that Mills Branch Wind/Solar owns in the Pennsylvania- New Jersey-Maryland Regional Transmission Operator (PJM) queue would be phase II, according to representatives of Apex the parent company, should the PSC preempt the Local Land Use Ordinances. Whether Phase II will be wind or solar is uncertain.
KCPA and Kent Conservation (KC) started talks about the need for two grassroots watchdog organizations in Kent County. The Board of Directors for Kent Conservation ultimately decided that the strength of both organizations would be greater if they join together to form a single entity. The past history and work of KC goes forward as part of the new combined force, with two members of the Board of Directors from KC coming onto the Board of Directors of KCPA.
As stewards of one of the oldest intact working colonial landscapes in substantially undisturbed condition, our job is to protect it for future generations. Once it is developed, it will be gone forever. We have work to do.