Moving Towards a Clean Energy Future at 2019 Summer #MACoCon

L to R: Jason Stanek, Mary Beth Tung, Ben Grumbles, Dereck Davis, Lael Campbell

The panel “Keeping Clean Energy Green Energy” on August 15 at the 2019 MACo Summer Conference examined Maryland’s transition to clean energy and explored what it means for county government infrastructure and land use policies.

Maryland Secretary of the Environment Ben Grumbles reiterated that the state’s pending Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act plan requires Maryland to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2030 from 2006 levels and prepares for a future reduction goal of 80%. Grumbles also discussed Governor Larry Hogan’s proposed Clean and Renewable Energy Standard (CARES), which calls for Maryland to transition to 100% clean energy sources (including renewables, nuclear, combined heat and power, and hydroelectric) by 2040. Finally, Grumbles highlighted a recent Executive Order released by Hogan that creates a renewable energy task force that will prepare a “roadmap for renewable energy” in the state.

Maryland Energy Administration Director Mary Beth Tung noted that Maryland has reduced its in-state energy generation by coal by roughly half, with natural gas filling most of the gap. Tung also discussed the Clean Energy Jobs Act legislation of 2019 and CARES. Tung noted that one of the opportunities under CARES is increasing combined heat and power, which can operate at 80-90% efficiency as compared to 30% efficiency of traditional systems. Finally, Tung highlighted the online Smart DG+ Tool.

Maryland Public Service Commission (PSC) Chair Jason Stanek warned that recent data shows the planet is browning and losing vegetation due to increase C02 emissions. Stanek also discussed the PSC’s role as a rate and infrastructure regulator. Stanek outlined three key PSC priorities: (1) electric vehicle and charging station infrastructure; (2) offshore wind; and (3) streamlining the approval process for siting renewable energy facilities. However, Stanek stressed the PSC wants to respect the positions of local governments, particularly for the siting of solar facilities.

Exelon Government and Regulatory Affairs Vice President Lael Campbell described how Exelon is the largest producer in the United States of zero-carbon electricity. Zero carbon electricity projects in Maryland include the Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Plant, Criterion Wind Project, and Conowingo Dam. Campbell noted that to stay under the United Nation’s 2-degree Celsius target, all current zero carbon generation sources need to remain online.

Maryland Delegate and House Economic Matters Committee Chair Dereck Davis moderated the panel.