On February 2, Maryland lawmakers voted overwhelmingly to boost the state’s renewable energy standards and override Gov. Larry Hogan’s veto of the Clean Energy Jobs Act. The bill will increase the requirements for customers to receive 25 percent of their electricity from renewable resources by 2020; up from the current goal of 20 percent by 2022.
It’s being hailed by environmental advocates as a state legislative victory against an anti-environmental agenda of President Trump.
The new measure will require utility companies to buy more energy from wind turbines and solar panels to meet the new demands.
Hogan vetoed the legislation calling it a “sunshine tax” and claimed it would be an additional burden on utility rate-payers. Republicans also object to the costs that will be passed onto customers.
However, the State Department of Legislative Services estimates that consumers may only pay between $.48 or $1.45 more per month with the new requirements.
Maryland currently has seven coal-burning power plants that contribute to the state’s failing air quality grades for ozone pollution by the American Lung Association. Nearly three-quarters of Marylanders live in areas that have a ‘D’ or ‘F’ in air quality.
The 25 percent increase is the equivalent of taking more than 563,000 passenger vehicles off the road every year.
Democrats believe this bill will boost the renewable energy industry in the state and create more jobs, in addition to reducing carbon emissions and air pollution. Approximately 4,600 direct jobs are expected to be created from the 25 percent increase in clean energy standards.
According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, there are more than 183 solar companies in Maryland that employs more than 4,200 people. These companies provide an array of products and services ranging from installations and manufacturing to financing and project development.
Del. Cheryl Glenn (D – Baltimore) said that companies are now looking to invest in manufacturing components for wind energy at the former Sparrows Point steel mill, an opportunity to generate more jobs for the community.
The Clean Energy Jobs Act is part of Maryland’s Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard (RPS) which requires electricity supplies to “procure a minimum portion of their electric retail sales by eligible renewable energy sources.” This is part of an ongoing effort to sustain the growth of the renewable industry compared to other states.
The Clean Energy Jobs Act will go into effect in early March.
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