This blog post also appears on my LinkedIn page.
If you live in Maryland and love affordable energy, you’re probably aware that this spring Gov. Larry Hogan vetoed the Clean Energy Jobs Act, calling it a tax increase that would be excessively burdensome to all ratepayers. It would also have updated Maryland’s renewable energy portfolio standard (RPS).
The solar industry is one of Maryland’s most productive business segments and, as such, deserves a spotlight. In fewer than 10 years the industry has delivered more than 35,000 projects and expected to finish the year with more 620 MW in service, exceeding the goals set out in the current RPS by 200 percent.
This represents more than $2.1 billion invested in Maryland projects designed to last between 25 to 30 years. Maryland is poised to double or triple this with the support of a renewed RPS. What Hogan vetoed was clearly not a tax increase. In fact, it’s statewide infrastructure investment.
In contrast, Pepco, which delivers energy to more than 842,000 customers in the District of Columbia and Maryland, was recently granted a monthly electricity rate increase two to five times greater than the total amount claimed for Hogan’s veto.
The approved Pepco rate increase applies to only two counties: Montgomery and Prince George’s. Each rate payer will see an increase of about $7 per month, an increase of $60 million per year in revenues for the utility. In contrast, the vetoed bill only adds 58 cents to monthly electric bills while building lasting Maryland based energy infrastructure. That works out to $6.96/year per customer, or $5.9 million in additional revenue for the utility.
Still think the veto made sense?
The act had previously passed both the House and Senate with solid margins and seemed on the way to being signed by Hogan until, surprisingly, it wasn’t. And while legislators on both sides of the aisle have pledged to override the veto — requiring three-fifths of both houses to accomplish — no one in the state is taking it for granted.
That’s why recently the Maryland Climate Coalition, with Standard Solar’s support, has started reaching Maryland residents with radio spots asking them to contact their legislators to urge them to override the veto in the 2017 legislative session, which begins Jan. 11.
The Clean Energy Jobs act would position us for an expanded Maryland renewable portfolio standard (RPS) and continue to build on the more than 4,200 well-paying jobs that can’t be outsourced in the fastest growing sector of the country’s economy, in addition to saving all ratepayers money by reducing the strain and modernizing portions of the grid. A recent study in Maine, with a population one-fifth of Maryland’s, showed that non-solar ratepayers would save $775 million over 25 years. Why shouldn’t Maryland’s citizens benefit from those kinds of savings and long-term infrastructure?
The override is the first step in 2017 for positioning Maryland to continue advancing its energy infrastructure, job growth and savings. And we’re not talking about an enormous expansion. It would only raise the RPS 5 percent (from 20 to 25 percent) and one-half of a percent rise in the solar carve-out portion of the bill (which would rise to 2.5 percent from its current level of 2 percent).
Maryland’s citizenry is on board with setting these goals, which would be reached by 2020. The legislature is on board with the goals. With the spotlight on solar, Hogan who stands between Marylanders and a bill that would result in more than 1.3 GW of Maryland-generated clean energy being added to the grid, as well as growing the state’s energy independence and workforce for leadership in the clean-energy future.
But we can only succeed in overturning this veto with your help. Get on the phone to your legislator’s local office and let them know you support the HB 1106 veto override. Make your voices heard on this important issue. Now is the time to call.
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