- An expansion of Maryland's EmPOWER efficiency program has become law, including a goal for utilities to reduce electricity usage 2% annually by 2020, after Gov. Larry Hogan declined to sign or veto a popular bill passed by the state's legislature.
- The law extends the EmPOWER energy efficiency program through 2023; advocates of the program say it has already saved state electricity customers more than $4 billion from 2008-2015.
- The Chesapeake Climate Action Network believes the expanded efficiency targets will save ratepayers $11.7 billion due to reduced energy consumption, while also adding almost $4 billion to Maryland’s gross domestic product.
Gov. Hogan declined to take any action on the EmPOWER expansion bill, allowing it to become law following speculation over whether or not he would sign the measure. Earlier this year lawmakers voted to override Hogan's veto of an expansion of Maryland's renewables targets, and it appeared they had the votes to do so again.
Advocates say the EmPOWER program has helped to support 67,000 full or part-time energy efficiency jobs in Maryland.
“Extending EmPOWER Maryland for six more years is a clear signal that Maryland is open for business in energy efficiency, which remains the lowest-cost strategy to meet the state's energy needs,” Matthew Ware, vice president of energy operations south for Veolia North America, said in a statement issued by Advanced Energy Economy.
The law extends the EmPOWER Maryland energy efficiency program through 2023. According to Chesapeake Climate Action Network, the program has already saved utility customers $1.8 billion on their electric bills.
The Maryland Senate voted 32-14 in favor of the bill, while the House of Delegates approved it in a 92-46 vote.
Deron Lovaas, senior policy advisor for the Natural Resources Defense Council, called the extension "an amazing accomplishment." He said the EmPOWER program "is an example of how common-sense policies like energy efficiency can win support no matter whether you're a liberal or conservative, Republican or Democrat."