Could Maryland Leave Coal Behind Completely?

A Maryland Matters article (2019-11-20) reported that House of Delegates Environment and Transportation Committee Chair Kumar Barve plans to introduce legislation during the 2020 session to decommission Maryland’s six coal-burning power plants. The article also covers a poll conducted at the request of the Sierra Club that suggests the majority of Marylanders favor transitioning from coal to renewable energy.

From the article:

In a conference call with reporters, Barve said he hadn’t settled on a timeline for shutting down the coal plants. “As the sponsor, I’m going to want a faster timeline, but this is ultimately something we’re going to have to negotiate,” he said.

Maryland has coal plants in Montgomery, Allegany, Prince George’s and Charles counties, plus two in Anne Arundel County. Coal accounts for about 25 percent of the power generated in the U.S., according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Coal-fired electricity generation in Maryland declined by almost 60% between 2011 and 2017. In 2017, Maryland’s in-state coal plants provided about 13% of the state’s gross electricity consumption. Under the terms of the Clean Energy Jobs Act, legislation to double renewable fuel use in the state by 2030, there should be enough energy generated by renewables to essentially make coal obsolete by the mid-2020’s, said David Smedick, a representative of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign.

The article noted that both New York and Washington have plans in place to phase out the use of coal in their energy portfolios.

The poll released by the Sierra Club shows that a majority of Marylanders believe a conversion from coal to renewables would have positive impacts on people’s health, air and water quality, the effects of climate change, as well as jobs and the economy, while a majority are not convinced the switch would have positive effects on electricity costs or reliability.

For more information on Maryland’s energy portfolio visit the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s webpage.