Leading By Example: Congratulations to Maryland’s First Smart Energy Communities

MD Smart Energy CommunitiesAt the start of 2014, seven counties in Maryland, and Baltimore City received the Maryland Smart Energy Community (MSEC) designation from the Maryland Energy Administration. The hard work and leadership of these counties has put them in the position to better understand and manage their energy usage, and advance sustainability and cost reduction goals. As a result of these actions the counties qualify for grants from the Maryland Energy Administration. Congratulations to Baltimore City, Anne Arundel, Harford, Frederick, Garrett, Montgomery, Prince George’s and Talbot counties! There are currently thirty- four MSEC designated communities, including the eight counties listed above and twenty-six municipalities. The program looks forward to designating new participants over the next several years.

“Harford County utilized the MSEC program as a catalyst to accelerate our sustainability mission of efficiently using and reusing our resources,” said Erin Ferriter, Sustainability Coordinator for Harford County. “Without the program, we would not have had the capability to implement ideas of efficiency. We are excited that the program is continuing and look forward to remaining engaged.”

The MSEC program is administered by the Maryland Energy Administration and supported by the University of Maryland Environmental Finance Center. The Maryland Smart Energy Communities program welcomes all incorporated local governments in the state. Participation in MSEC requires communities to track and report energy consumption at county-owned facilities as well as assemble energy management plans.

Participating communities must adopt two of three goals related to energy efficiency improvements, renewable energy generation, or transportation petroleum reduction. Communities that meet the program requirements receive grant funding for energy-related projects such as energy efficiency retrofits or fuel-saving alternative vehicles. Other program benefits include the potential for fuel and electricity savings, improved environmental performance, access to technical assistance from the University of Maryland, and eligibility for more Smart Energy Community grant funding. Moreover, the MSEC program seeks to build a network of Maryland communities working together to share best practices for smart energy management, and to position local governments as energy leaders for their residents and businesses.

The next round of funding is not expected until late 2014, but interested local governments should visit http://energy.maryland.gov/Govt/smartenergycommunities. You can also contact Devan Willemsen, MEA’s MSEC Program Manager at devan.willemsen@maryland.gov or contact Sean Williamson, Program Manager, with the University of Maryland Environmental Finance Center at srw46@umd.edu or (301) 405-8259.