Maryland bill to boost adoption of residential solar


Sponsored by Maryland Senator Brian J. Feldman and Delegate Lily Qi, Senate Bill 664 and House Bill 1239, would increase Maryland’s residential clean energy grant from $1,000 to $5,000 to boost adoption of rooftop solar and create local clean energy jobs.

This bill would fund rooftop solar grants through fees and penalties paid by companies that do not meet the state’s clean energy requirements, minimizing the cost to taxpayers and ensuring those fees are directed toward promoting renewable energy. It would also enhance clean energy incentives for low- and moderate-income residents, as well as those living in overburdened and underserved communities.

“Maryland has set some of the nation’s most ambitious goals for reducing emissions and achieving climate equity. We cannot meet our state’s ambitious goals unless we make it easier for Maryland residents to enjoy the economic and environmental benefits of clean energy,” said Maryland State Senator Brian Feldman, sponsor of SB0664. “With this bill we have an opportunity to reboot Maryland’s rooftop solar industry and create thousands of jobs in the process, while providing incentives that make solar power more accessible to lower-income households.”

Incentivizing the adoption of residential rooftop solar will be crucial to achieving Maryland’s ambitious climate goals laid out in the Climate Solutions Now Act, which passed in April 2022. The plan speeds up Maryland’s current goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions from 40% of 2006 levels to 60% by 2031, and net-zero emissions by 2045. The Maryland Department of the Environment is currently is working on a conceptual road map due by t​he end of June 2023, with the final plan is ​due at the end of the year. 

Rooftop solar in Maryland has slowed down considerably since its peak in 2016, and the state is only expected to install just over 1 GW of solar in the next five years, which currently projects to be 31st in the nation over that time, according to Solar Energy Industries Association.

“Expanding residential solar is an opportunity for Maryland to address the climate crisis while creating jobs and boosting our state’s economic competitiveness,” said Maryland Delegate Lily Qi, sponsor of HB1239. “This bill moves us toward Maryland’s ambitious climate goals in a way that is inclusive of households of all income levels and makes clean energy accessible to the communities who have disproportionately been affected by rising energy costs.”

A coalition of rooftop solar advocates, workforce development groups, energy equity champions, and renewable energy companies launched a campaign to advocate for legislation that would make solar power more accessible and affordable for all Marylanders. One of those groups is the Maryland Rooftop Solar Coalition (MRSC), which is comprised of companies that finance, sell, design, and install solar systems with the objective of reviving the rooftop solar market in the state. Coalition members include Solar Energy World, Trinity Solar, GoodLeap, Sunnova, Dividend Finance, Lumina Solar, IGS, SunPower, Sunrun, ADT, Solar United Neighbors, and Solar Energy Services.

“While we’ve seen growth in the utility scale solar market in Maryland since the Maryland Clean Energy Jobs Act passed in 2019, residential solar continues to lag behind despite playing a critical role in meeting the state’s climate goals,” said Ed Merrick, chair of MRSC. “We need to rebuild this industry and do it in a way that includes all Marylanders by leveraging our existing built infrastructure. Incentivizing the installation of residential rooftop solar through the state’s existing grant program will help make clean energy more accessible and affordable for all Maryland residents, regardless of their financial status.”

Supporters of the bill point out that equitable access to solar energy will also be a key aspect of expanding clean energy usage and cutting emissions in Maryland, which will require outreach and assistance for low- and moderate-income families who have been disproportionately burdened by legacy polluting fossil fuel infrastructure.

“Residential solar is a vital energy resource that empowers Maryland homeowners to reduce their utility bills, build resilience from power outages, and gain energy independence,” said Kimberly Armstrong, Maryland Program Director, Solar United Neighbors (SUN). “Rooftop solar is a shining example of how to utilize and produce homegrown clean energy that directly benefits local residents and communities. Solar is an abundant solution that will help Maryland put an end to its dependence on dirty, expensive energy that is vulnerable to inflation forces and foreign disruption.”

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