Currently there are three separate workgroups looking at renewable energy siting issues (primarily solar and wind) in Maryland and the work of these groups will likely result in legislation or policy changes that will directly affect local land use planning and taxing authority. MACo is active on all three of these workgroups and is seeking interested county participants to serve on a Renewable Energy Siting Advisory Committee that will help guide MACo’s positions on this important and challenging issue.
Because the renewable energy siting and related financial incentive issues are so expansive, MACo is seeking a broad cross-section of county participants, including but not limited to: elected officials, planners, administrators, attorneys, sustainability officers, engineers, and budget and finance officers. A county can submit multiple representatives.
The Three Workgroups
Task Force on Renewable Energy Development and Siting: Created by Maryland Governor Larry Hogan through Executive Order, the Task Force study and make consensus-based recommendations on the siting of clean and renewable energy projects, including how to accelerate and streamline the siting of projects in desired areas, such as developed lands, brownfields, and parking lots, while minimizing the impact of projects sited in less-desired areas, such as agriculturally, ecologically, or culturally important lands. The recommendations must recognize and respect local government legal authority and private property rights.
Maryland House of Delegates Environment and Transportation Workgroup on Solar Development: Created by the House Environment and Transportation Committee, this Workgroup is focused specifically on the land use and siting issues surrounding solar development, with a focus on utility-scale solar facilities. The Workgroup was formed in response to 2019 legislation (HB 532/SB 744) that would have established a Commission on the Development of a Blueprint for Solar Energy in Maryland. SB 744 passed the Senate with MACo-supported amendments but the Environment and Transportation Committee took no action on either bill. The Workgroup is not bound by the provisions of the 2019 legislation.
Statewide Joint Land Use Survey Implementation (JLUS) Committee Alternative Energy Siting Project: The Implementation Committee is tasked with studying and implementing the Maryland Statewide Joint Land Use Study Response Implementation Strategy, which contains recommendations to make state and local land use priorities align with the needs of military facilities located in the state. As part of its work, the Implementation Committee is developing an Alternative Energy Siting Project to ensure that alternative energy projects are located in a manner that do disrupt base missions or current or future operating areas. The Implementation Committee may create a Steering Committee to develop the project.
MACo Position on Solar Siting
MACo supports solar energy development with local zoning and siting requirements as part of the project approval process. MACo recognizes that there needs to be a mix of rooftop, community, and utility-scale solar projects to meet Maryland’s renewable energy goals and has established the following prioritization for solar projects:
- rooftop solar;
- development of solar projects on brownfields, grayfields (such as parking lots and warehouse rooftops), industrial areas, and appropriate government-owned lands (such as landfills and wastewater treatment plants); and
- open space zoned for solar by local governments, with appropriate protections for prime farmland, forestlands, critical areas and wetlands, environmentally sensitive areas, and areas of cultural or historical importance.
The Advisory Committee
The Advisory Committee will meet as needed to review the progress of the three workgroups and provide county feedback on any findings and recommendations. Most of the meetings will be conducted by teleconference but an occasional in-person meeting may be needed to discuss significant developments. In-person meetings will likely take place at MACo in Annapolis.
If you are interested in serving on the Advisory Committee, please contact MACo Legal and Policy Counsel Les Knapp at firstname.lastname@example.org and provide the following information: (1) name; (2) job title and county; (3) phone number; and (4) email.
Do not hesitate to contact MACo if you have additional questions or concerns.