One year ago, the solar industry in Maryland won a stunning victory when the legislature overrode Governor Larry Hogan’s veto of the Clean Energy Jobs Act – in one swoop raising the state’s renewable portfolio standard (RPS) by 5% to 25%.
Now the legislature seems poised to give the industry another shot in the arm, which industry insiders say could help inoculate the state against predicted job losses that could result from the Section 201 tariffs that President Donald J. Trump imposed on imported solar cells and modules last month.
Talk about a nice Valentine’s Day gift.
A pair of bills introduced this week – Senate Bill (SB) 732 and House Bill (HB) 1453 – would double the state’s renewable energy ambition by requiring that utilities procure 50% of their electricity from renewables by 2030, a major increase on the current mandate of 25% by 2020. This includes a significant increase in the solar carve-out, from 2.5% to 5.5% next year and rising to 14.5% by 2028.
The Maryland solar industry asserts that the changes in the bill would stave off the Maryland 800 job losses GTM Research predicts were coming this year for the state as the result of the tariff decision. Instead, the industry said the bill would bring $11 billion in investments and create 20,000 new jobs.
“The bill will enable industry to meet the solar energy demand of Maryland residents and organizations and enable 10 years of market and jobs stability,” said John Finnerty, director of business development for Standard Solar and Maryland, DC, and Virginia Solar Energy Industries Association board member. “We join the rest of the Maryland solar industry in supporting the legislature’s and governor’s efforts to pass this bill that will help make Maryland the right choice expand and attract businesses.”
This is the fourth effort to dramatically increase state renewable energy mandates that pv magazine has discovered this week, following bills and/or ballot initiatives in Michigan, Nevada and Massachusetts. Unlike the efforts in Michigan and Nevada, we have not yet seen any indication that billionaire and clean energy advocate Tom Steyer is promoting the Maryland bill.
The next hearing on Maryland’s bill will held in the Senate chamber on March 6.