- Maryland senators yesterday voted 31-14 to expand the state's renewable energy goals, boosting targets solar and wind targets to 25% by 2020.
- The higher goals would would make Maryland's renewable target the sixth highest nationally, behind Vermont, California, Hawaii, New York, and Connecticut.
- Though lawmakers in the House approved the measure last month, both chambers will need to take final votes to reconcile differences between bill versions before the measure heads to the desk of Gov. Larry Hogan (R). The governor has not taken a public stance on the bill.
As much a jobs bill as clean energy legislation, Maryland's new expanded RPS not only targets solar and wind energy but also seeks to bolster minority- and women-owned energy businesses. If it is signed by Gov. Larry Hogan, the bill would place Maryland's RPS among the more ambitious state standards throughout the nation.
“Today’s vote is a major step toward growing Maryland’s clean energy economy,” said Senator Catherine Pugh (D), lead sponsor of SB 921. “This bill will create good-paying jobs and healthier air for communities in Baltimore and across Maryland that urgently need both.”
Supporters of Maryland's higher RPS say the move ensures 1,300 MW of new clean energy will be generated, and 1,000 solar jobs and 4,600 wind positions created. Maryland's solar industry currently employs 4,300.
A recent Maryland Climate Coalition poll found 71% of the state’s voters, spread across all parties, strongly supported or somewhat supported increasing the RPS to 25% even if it added a monthly $0.50 to their electricity bills.
The bill also makes small minority- and women-owned businesses in Maryland eligible to receive dedicated funding for market growth through the state’s “Strategic Energy Investment Fund.”
A spokesperson for the Hogan administration told MarylandReporter.com last month that the governor did not have a position on the Clean Energy Jobs Act, but that it was concerned with some of the spending provisions. On Monday, the governor signed the Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Act, which commits the state to cut economy-wide GHG emissions by 40% below 2006 levels by 2030.