As previously reported on Conduit Street, there are multiple workgroups studying the issue of renewable energy siting (especially utility-scale solar) that will result in policy recommendations and legislation for the 2020 Session. Over the past several weeks, MACo Legal and Policy Counsel Les Knapp has participated in various workgroup meetings and meet with county officials about this ongoing issue.
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.
Knapp is the MACo representative on the Task Force and has participated in three informational conference calls on September 6, September 20, and October 3. The next Task Force call is scheduled for October 17 and will focus on county and municipal responses to solar siting.
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.
Knapp represented MACo at the Workgroup’s Annapolis meeting on September 11.
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.
Knapp participated in the Committee’s meeting in Baltimore City concerning the Alternative Energy Siting Project on September 12.
Senate Finance Committee Energy Briefing
As part of its day-long briefing on energy issues on September 16 in Annapolis, the Senate Finance Committee considered the issues of solar siting and net metering. Knapp testified along with a representative from Montgomery County on net metering and solar.
Maryland Planning Directors Meeting
Knapp participated in a discussion on solar siting at the Maryland Department of Planning’s Planning Directors Meeting in Crownsville on September 20.
Knapp testified before the Washington County Board of County Commissioners in Hagerstown on solar zoning and siting issues on September 24.
Knapp meet with Harford County Executive Barry Glassman and County planning and legal staff in Bel Air to discuss solar zoning and siting issues on October 1.
MACo Renewable Energy Siting Advisory Committee
MACo has formed a Renewable Energy Siting Advisory Committee to help guide MACo’s positions as the various workgroups propose recommendations of legislation. If you are interested in serving on the Advisory Committee, please contact Knapp at firstname.lastname@example.org and provide the following information: (1) name; (2) job title and county; (3) phone number; and (4) email.