CSS Report Proposes Enhancements to EmPower Maryland & RPS to Meet Climate Change Goals

The Center for Climate Strategies (CSS), a nonpartisan and nonprofit organization that provides technical assistance and support to states for climate action planning and analysis, has released a report designed to complement Governor Martin O’Malley’s recently released Greenhouse Gas Reduction Plan.

The report, titled “Enhancements to EmPower Maryland and Maryland Renewable Portfolio Standard Clean Energy Programs:  Pathways to Cut Pollution, Save Cash, Create Jobs, and Grow the State’s Economy,” discusses how EmPOWER Maryland and the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) can be modified to meet the Plan’s greenhouse gas reduction goals.  From the report:

The goal of this report is to provide an independent analysis of some of the key elements of the Plan in terms of greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions and macroeconomic impact. In particular we examined the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), EmPOWER Maryland, and the RPS. Maryland’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Plan found that the current suite of programs that have been deployed across the state to reduce GHG emissions are on track to reduce emissions by approximately 16 percent by 2020. To achieve the extra 9 percent necessary to reach the 25 percent reduction goal, Maryland needs to implement new programs or enhance existing programs to reduce an extra 9.2 million metric tons of carbon dioxide–‐equivalent (MMtCO2e) annually. This report lays out a path to achieve those extra emissions reductions through program enhancements to EmPOWER Maryland and the RPS.

The report finds that EmPOWER Maryland could meet desired energy demand reductions if the program is able to reduce energy consumption across the state by 1.5% annually.  Additionally, the report recommends the program be expanded to include both natural gas and “new efficient on-site power systems.”

For the RPS, the report recommends increasing the overall RPS goal for renewable energy sources from 18% by 2020 to 25% by 2020 and exclude energy derived from “black liquor” and wood waste from the RPS.  (Black Liquor is a substance generated during the production of paper pulp that can be burned to generate energy.)