Two Studies Critical of Maryland’s Renewable Energy Strategy

Baltimore Sun article (2018-07-29) reported on the release of two new studies that have criticized Maryland’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS), arguing that: (1) the RPS subsidizes “dirty” forms of energy such as waste incineration and paper byproduct known as black liquor; and (2) allowing utilities to purchase renewable energy credits in lieu of actually purchasing renewable energy directly undermines a full transition to renewable energy sources. Maryland’s RPS currently requires that 25% of the state’s energy come from renewable sources by 2020.

The first study was released by the environmental advocacy group Food & Water Watch and assigned letter grades to the renewable energy efforts of each state. Maryland received an “F” grade because the RPS includes waste incineration and black liquor as renewable. Other states receiving an “F” included Delaware, Massachusetts, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. The two highest grades went to Hawaii (“B-“) and Vermont (“C+”). From the article:

Del. Dereck Davis, a Prince George’s County Democrat and chairman of the House of Delegates Economic Matters committee, said he thinks Maryland is “making strides” at growing its renewable energy supply and promoting development of solar and wind projects across the state.

He dismissed the state’s F grade from Food and Water Watch, pointing out that many states — 21 of them, according to the group’s study — don’t offer any renewable energy incentives at all.

Another study released by Chesapeake Physicians for Social Responsibility (Chesapeake PSR) criticized Maryland’s use of renewable energy credits and argued that the practice was delaying a full transition to renewable energy within the state. The study argued that utilities could use credits to subsidize renewable energy producers “often in far away places” while continuing to meet Maryland’s energy needs through the use of fossil fuels. The study recommended that utilities only be allowed to purchase renewable energy from in-state producers.

Useful Links

Cleanwashing – How States Count Polluting Energy Sources as Renewable (Food & Water Watch Study)

Food & Water Watch Website

Unbundled – How Renewable Energy Credits Undermine Maryland’s Transition to Clean, Renewable Energy (Chesapeake PSR Study)

Chesapeake PSR Website