Counties Support Streamlining Discrepancies in Local Oversight of Solar Facilities

On March 9, 2023, Associate Policy Director Dominic Butchko testified before the House Economic Matters Committee in support of HB 1188 – Public Utilities – Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity – Solar Photovoltaic Systems.

The Senate Education, Energy, and the Environment Committee will consider the bill’s cross-file, SB 931, on March 15.

HB 1188 alters the definition of a “generating station” as it pertains to the existing requirement that individuals constructing solar energy facilities that produce more than 2 megawatts (2MW) of electricity must obtain a certificate of public convenience and necessity from the Public Service Commission (PSC). In effect, this bill codifies existing local authority to oversee the installation of these qualifying solar photovoltaic systems, providing much-needed clarity for all stakeholders involved.

From the MACo Testimony:

Decades ago, the General Assembly chose to create a state-level process to authorize and site utility scale power generation facilities. Recent court decisions have confirmed that these laws, written long before the advent of widespread deployment of solar facilities, also apply to solar facilities if they are of a suitably large scale. Local authority is limited in the oversight of the location and approval of such facilities – primarily, facilities under 2MW must follow local policy while facilities above 2MW are the purview of the PSC, with limited local input. HB 1188 simply codifies current practice (i.e. the 2MW or below principle) into statute, removing ambiguity and providing predictability for all stakeholders. Local government and industry are united in wanting to preserve this already well-thought-out and existing practice. Without the clarity provided by HB 1188, Maryland risks losing out on positive future development or complicating already successful ventures.

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