The Senate Finance Committee gave a favorable report on an amended version of MACo’s energy facility siting legislation (SB 931) on March 28 while the House Economic Matters Committees passed out a separate bill (HB 1350) with amendments making the bill identical to SB 931. The amendments were the result of a consensus between MACo and numerous other stakeholders, including the Public Service Commission (PSC), the Maryland Municipal League, utility scale solar developers, utilities, agricultural and land conservation groups, and environmental groups. Addressing energy siting concerns was a 2017 MACo Legislative Initiative.
As amended, the bills would:
- require the PSC, as part of its review of an application for a certificate of public convenience and necessity (CPCN) for an energy generating station to give due consideration to: (i) the consistency of the application with the comprehensive plan and zoning of each county or municipal corporation in which any portion of the generation station is proposed to be located; and (ii) the efforts by affected parties to resolve any issues presented by such a county or municipal corporation
- require the PSC to provide notice of any CPCN application to the executive branch of any affected local government in addition to the local governing body, include a copy of the application to the affected local governments with the notice, and offer to provide a copy of the application to state legislators representing the affected local governments
In a separate letter, MACo also reiterated 4 other commitments that were made outside of the bill language:
- The Power Plant Research Program will conduct an informal study on improving notice and communication between the State, local governments, and energy developers.
- MACo, utility scale solar developers, and other interested stakeholders will work together to develop proposed best practices for developers operating in Maryland.
- Senate Finance Chair Thomas “Mac” Middleton will hold interim discussions with interested stakeholders on setting protections regarding energy development on lands subject to a State land preservation or conservation easement or in a Rural Legacy Area.
- MACo will commit to not introduce legislation directly affecting the PSC’s CPCN process for the next several years unless there is a significant change in the energy development landscape or the provisions of SB 931 are not working as intended.