Passage of Clean Energy Jobs Act Likely, But Maybe Not This Year

Maryland Matters article (2019-03-06) discussed whether the Clean Energy Jobs Act (HB 1158/SB 516) would pass this year despite it being a priority of the environmental community. The article laid out reasons against passage this year but stated it will very likely pass during this term.

The Clean Energy Jobs Act would increase the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) to 50% by 2030 (meaning that half of Maryland’s energy must come from renewable sources). The bill would also require that at least 14.5% of the renewable energy come from in-state solar. Currently, the RPS is at 25% by 2020, with 2.5% coming from solar.

The article laid out several reasons against passage this year:

  1. Caution by legislative leaders based on new General Assembly membership and potential energy cost increases on consumers
  2. Complexity of utility laws and regulations
  3. A pending final report on the RPS by the Power Plant Research Program, which is a research agency housed within the Maryland Department of Natural Resources
  4. Uncertainty over Governor Larry Hogan’s position

From the article:

At one point [during the Clean Energy Jobs Act bill hearing and] to the surprise of her colleagues and stakeholders, [Senate Finance Chair Delores Kelley] suggested that the committee set up a workgroup to examine the more technical aspects of Feldman’s legislation; whether or not that happens is an open question. …

“There has been some concern expressed to me by more than a few legislators and interested stakeholders that we paid $1 million for a  study, so we may want to wait for it to be completed,” [House Economic Matters Committee Chair Dereck Davis] said in an interview Tuesday. …

Davis predicted the bill will pass in the near future.

“It’s going to happen this term,” he said. “It’s just a matter of when.”

Historically, MACo has not taken a position on the RPS but has worked to ensure that local zoning and land use is a factor when siting large scale solar energy projects, particularly on farmland or open space. Utility scale solar siting was a MACo Legislative Initiative in 2017 and led to the passage of HB 1350.

That bill required the Public Service Commission to:

  1. 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; and
  2. 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.