- Lawmakers in the Maryland Senate voted 32-13 to expand the state's renewable energy target, overriding Gov. Larry Hogan (R)'s veto of the measure in May of last year.
- The Senate's vote followed on a similar move in the House of Delegates earlier this week. The Baltimore Sun points out that the Democratic majority legislature has overridden a veto on several issues, ranging from felons' rights to how hotel taxes are collected.
- The law will raise Maryland's renewable portfolio standard from 20% to 25% by 2020, a decision environmentalists immediately cheered.
Largely along party lines, Maryland lawmakers looked past increased electric bills and voted to boost the amount of carbon-free energy utilities in the state provide customers. In response, Hogan took to Facebook and posted a list of Senators who voted in favor, urging constituents to complain.
"It will be an additional charge on your energy bill each month to pay for overly expensive solar and wind energy credits, the majority of which are created by companies outside of Maryland," he wrote.
Last year, Maryland electric suppliers needed renewable energy credits for 15.9% of their supply, with a goal of 20% by 2022. Now, utilities must reach 25% by 2020. The bill also raises the solar carve-out to 2.5% by 2020, creating incentives for roughly 1,300 MW of new clean energy.
Hogan also rolled out his own $65 million environmental plan last month that aims to boost electric vehicle infrastructure and training for green energy jobs, but neglected any investments in renewable power resources after vetoing the energy bill. At the time, he said expanding the RPS would increase tax revenues by $196 million.
Now it appears that lawmakers have chosen the opposite route, cheering up clean energy advocates disappointed by Hogan's lack of support for renewable energy. Sierra Club policy representative David Smedick said in a statement the vote showed Maryland "overwhelmingly supports clean energy and government leadership to make it happen. ... With the Clean Energy Jobs Act, we will see more renewable energy on the grid, more solar installers working across the state and less pollution from dirty coal plants."
Mike Tidwell, director of Chesapeake Climate Action Network, said the bill has "true national significance."
While the new Presidential administration has threatened to change course on climate change, including potentially exiting from the Paris climate accord, Tidwell said "states like Maryland will fight back here at home with jobs, cleaner air, and truly responsive government."
American Wind Energy Association CEO Tom Kiernan said the decision was "the right decision for Maryland." He said the bill is "pro-growth, pro-business, and means access to more jobs in Maryland."