EPA Relaxing Enforcement of Environmental Regulations

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced Thursday that it will temporarily rollback enforcement of environmental regulations during the COVID-19 pandemic. For weeks several industries including oil and gas have asked the federal government to relax regulations. The industries argue that they are experiencing worker shortages, and that compliance with what they deem non-essential regulations is inhibiting their ability to distribute fuel. They specifically ask for leniency toward testing and reporting requirements. In response the EPA…

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2020 End of Session Wrap-Up: Environment

This post summarizes the status of various environmental bills that MACo took a position on during the 2020 Regular Session. MACo seeks practical solutions to environmental issues that do not impose unreasonable mandates or costs on county governments. This year, for the first time in since the Civil War, the General Assembly closed session early on March 18, due to precautionary social distancing measures taken to curb the spread of COVID-19. Consequently, many bills did…

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Maryland Issued “Mediocre” Rating for Infrastructure

The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) has given Maryland an overall 2020 infrastructure grade of C. The group gives Maryland high marks in areas like bridge resiliency and airport capacity but highlights issues with transit, citing an eight-year decline in ridership. ASCE issues grades in various infrastructure categories based on the following criteria: capacity, condition, operation and maintenance, funding, future need, public safety, resilience, and innovation. Consistent throughout the report are references to a…

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Nevada Adopts Energy Storage Target
Wind Turbine & Solar Panels at Talbot County Bio-Solids Facility
Nevada Adopts Energy Storage Target

Nevada has set energy storage targets of 100MW by the end of 2020 and 1,000MW by 2030. They join five other states in adopting specific deployment goals. The Nevada Public Utilities Commission released a proposal in January, two years after the State's Legislature solicited a study on the benefits of energy storage. The Commission now requires that electric utilities in the state with gross annual operating revenue of $250 million or more incorporate energy storage…

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Community Choice Energy Bill Passes House As Pilot Program
Wind Turbine & Solar Panels at Talbot County Bio-Solids Facility
Community Choice Energy Bill Passes House As Pilot Program

HB 561 Electric Industry - Community Choice Energy - Pilot Program has passed the Maryland House of Delegates by a vote of 92-38. The bill was initially intended to be effective statewide, but has been amended into a pilot program for Montgomery County. As introduced, HB 561 would have allowed any county, municipality, or combination thereof to form a "Community Choice Aggregate" that would be able to harness ratepayers collective demand for energy and utilize…

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MACo Opposes Removal of Local Authority Over Solar Energy Siting

MACo Legal & Policy Counsel Les Knapp testified with Caroline County Planner Kathleen Freeman to the House Economic Matters Committee on March 5, 2020 to oppose HB 1390 - Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity - Electric Facilities - Study and Procedures. The bill would: (1) remove current incentives for energy developers seeking a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN) from the Public Service Commission (PSC) to follow local zoning and land use requirements;…

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Maryland Energy Administration Launches Local Microgrid Grant Program

The Maryland Energy Administration recently announced the Resilient Maryland Pilot incentive program (“Resilient Maryland”). The program hopes to drive growth in the adaption of microgrid technology by providing grants to local governments and organizations.  Microgrids provide a variety of benefits to local communities. They help ensure local and affordable energy solutions for consumers through reduced transmission length, providing efficiency in energy production and consumption. Additionally, microgrids interface well with renewable energy sources such as wind,…

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Counties Oppose Blanket Mandate for Geothermal Energy in Schools

On February 27, 2020 MACo testified before the House Appropriations Committee to oppose HB 665 - Public School Construction and State Buildings – Use of Geothermal Energy. This bill would place a costly mandate on county governments to carry out new state policy to install geothermal energy systems during construction of public schools as well as for any construction that uses at least 50% state funds. From the MACo Testimony: As a rule, MACo resists…

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Counties Raise Concerns with Solar Tax Exemption Mandate

MACo Associate Director Kevin Kinnally testified in support HB 1106 (CF SB 954) - Property Tax - Solar Energy Systems with amendments. The bill grants broad tax exemptions for rooftop community solar energy generating systems, designates certain solar energy property as a new subclass of personal property, and authorizes local governments to impose a lower personal property tax rate on solar energy equipment. From the MACo Testimony: MACo appreciates the flexibility to impose a lower personal…

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Counties: Community Choice A Step Toward Cheaper, Cleaner Energy

MACo Policy Associate Alex Butler testified to the Senate Finance Committee to support SB 315 (CF HB 561) - Electric Industry - Community Choice Energy. MACo staff previously testified before the House Economic Matters Committee to support the House version. This bill grants counties greater flexibility in energy purchasing for their communities to help foster competition, lower prices, or pursue cleaner supply. From the MACo Testimony: The bill provides important benefits and consumer protections –…

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