After three years of pushing the General Assembly to expand Maryland’s clean energy standard, legislators voted overwhelmingly in 2016 to pass the Clean Energy Jobs Act (SB 921/HB 1106) to expand Maryland’s commitment to wind and solar energy. Unfortunately, Governor Hogan vetoed the bill. The Governor’s veto is harming Maryland’s efforts to address climate change and create good-paying clean energy jobs. Maryland’s General Assembly needs to vote for the Clean Energy Jobs Act again this year to override the veto.
Over half of Maryland’s electricity still comes from carbon-spewing fossil fuels – coal, oil and natural gas. These dirty fuels are bad for our health, our economy, our climate, and our energy security. As the state that is the 3rd most vulnerable in America to sea-level rise driven by climate change, and with the worst air quality on the East Coast, we need to act now to curb our dependence on fossil fuels. And clean energy has already proven itself to be a powerful driver of economic development in Maryland, including job creation.
The Governor is harming economic growth with his veto by preventing the expansion of a policy that his own Administration’s study has said is a multi-billion-dollar net economic benefit to the state. Increasing support for renewable energy through this bill will reduce air emissions, support nearly 1,000 new high-paying Maryland clean energy jobs during construction, and advance Maryland’s efforts to build a more diverse clean energy workforce.
That’s why a broad and diverse coalition of environmentalists, public health officials, business leaders, labor leaders, faith leaders, academics, low-income advocates and social justice advocates have come together to call on Maryland’s General Assembly to override the Governor’s veto to increase the state’s clean electricity standard, called the “Renewable Portfolio Standard.”
The “Clean Energy Jobs Act” of 2016 (SB 921/HB 1106), would ensure that Maryland gets 25 percent of its electricity from clean sources like wind and solar power by 2020, while simultaneously creating funding opportunities for clean energy workforce training, and small minority- and women-owned clean energy businesses growth. Maryland’s General Assembly needs to vote for the Clean Energy Jobs Act again at the start of the 2017 legislative session to override the veto.
Clean Power Will Move Maryland Forward
More clean electricity for Maryland will move the state forward on health, jobs, and climate while making our electricity grid more reliable, even during major storms.
Fossil fuel combustion is a public health crisis. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is the 4th leading cause of death in Maryland. Air pollution from old, outdated, and dirty energy is costing Marylanders. These health burdens disproportionately harm low-income populations and communities of color.
Increasing Maryland’s renewable energy goal to 25% by 2020 will significantly improve the state’s air quality, preventing 25 to 50 premature deaths per year and will increase regional economic growth between $200 million and $450 million annually due to better health outcomes.
By increasing our renewable energy goal to 25% by 2020, Maryland is poised to stimulate a statewide resurgence of manufacturing and construction jobs. Renewable energy has already created jobs and helped diversify Maryland’s economy. New solar construction that would result from the Clean Energy Jobs Act would total $150 million annually in GDP growth.
The Clean Energy Jobs Act also will establish a working group among government agencies and clean energy stakeholders to examine the best funding opportunities to invest in job training in the clean energy industry, and to remove barriers for entry in this industry by minority-owned and women-owned businesses. In addition, it makes small minority-owned and women-owned businesses in this industry eligible to receive dedicated funding for market growth through the state’s “Strategic Energy Investment Fund.”
A Safer Climate
A 25% clean electricity standard will create incentives for roughly 1,300 megawatts of new clean energy in our region and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by over 2.7 million metric tons per year. That’s the carbon equivalent of taking 563,000 passenger vehicles off the road every year, which will also deliver improved public health outcomes, cleaner air and cleaner water.
Weather in our region is getting more intense, and our electricity grid is increasingly compromised by climate-related hazards, including more intense storms and heat waves. Dispersed and locally generated electricity that doesn’t emit greenhouse gasses is a more sustainable solution to our energy needs than our current system of centralized, polluting power plants. More clean power will make our electricity grid more resilient and keep our lights on, even during increasingly extreme weather events.
Clean Energy is Affordable Energy for Maryland
- Average solar prices have fallen 63% since 2009 as U.S. installations have increased by 1,400%.
- Over half the states (including Maryland) could have rooftop solar that’s as cheap as local electricity prices by 2017.
- Wind power costs hit record lows in 2014, and have fallen by 54% in the last five years.
- Wind prices are projected to decrease by 20%-30% over the next 20 years.
- Wind is already out-competing natural gas and other fossil fuels on price in many parts of the country, and the U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates that the price of natural gas will likely increase by 70%-110% by 2025.
A Small Price to Pay
An independent analysis of the Clean Energy Jobs Act estimated that increasing Maryland’s renewable energy use to 25% by 2020 would cost residential customers 58 cents per month in 2020. For less than a penny per day investment per resident, the renewable energy expansion would prevent up to 50 deaths annually and increase net economic growth by up to $600 million per year due to better health outcomes and new solar construction, while creating new Maryland jobs.
With your help, we can convince our lawmakers to override the veto and protect Maryland’s health, economy, climate and energy security by expanding our commitment to clean electricity. Contact Brooke Harper, our Maryland Outreach Coordinator, at Brooke@chesapeakeclimate.org.
- “Md. Coalition Makes Push For Veto Override Of Renewables Bill.” Solar Industry Mag. 11/10/16.
- “Maryland needs renewable energy.” Baltimore Sun letter. 12/20/16
- “Father-son duo plan to bike nearly 400 miles in Maryland to push for renewable energy measure.” Washington Post. 8/18/16.
- “Hogan’s clean energy war.” Washington Post Op-Ed. 6/12/16.
- “Job Losses Expected As Maryland Governor Stuns Solar Industry With Clean Energy Veto.” Think Progress. 5/31/16.
- “Maryland House Advances Major Bill to Expand Renewable Energy. CCAN Press Release.” 3/21/16.
- “Environmentalists seek to clean up state’s renewable energy but face powerful opponents.” Baltimore Sun. 3/8/16.
- “Md. lawmakers to propose boosting state levels of renewable energy use.” Washington Post. 12/8/15.
- Press release: In Spirit of Paris, Top Maryland Lawmakers Propose Largest Clean Energy Jobs Plan in State History
- OpinionWorks Poll: 71 percent of Maryland voters support expanding our clean energy standard to 25% by 2020, even if it would add up to 50 cents per month to their electric bill.
- The Clean Energy Jobs Act of 2016 (SB 921/HB 1106): Fact Sheet (PDF).
- Bill text and sponsor details of the Maryland Clean Energy Jobs Act of 2016 (SB 921/HB 1106).
- Why Expanding the Maryland Clean Electricity Standard has No Impact on Incineration (PDF).
- Restoring Wetlands in Maryland: Fact Sheet (PDF).
- “Current Nonattainment Counties for All Criteria Pollutants | Green Book | US EPA.” N.p., 12 July 2014. Web. <http://www.epa.gov/oaqps001/greenbk/ancl.html#Notes>. Results matched with 2013 U.S. Census population estimates.
- A typical wind farm of 250 MW creates about 1,079 direct jobs over the lifetime of the project. 40% RPS creates demand for roughly 4,500 MW of new wind power. American Wind Farms: Breaking Down the Benefits from Planning to Production. Rep. Natural Resources Defense Council, Sept. 2012. <http://www.nrdc.org/energy/files/american-wind-farms-IP.pdf>
- Solar Energy Industry Association and GTM Research (2014). “U.S. Solar Market Insight 2013 Year in Review.” <http://www.seia.org/research-resources/solar-market-insight-report-2013-year-review>
- Affordable Rooftop Solar in the United States. Union of Concerned Scientists, 2014. <http://www.ucsusa.org/our-work/clean-energy/increase-renewable-energy/affordable-rooftop-solar-united-states#.VDfzd_ldVnY>
- “Lazard’s Levelized Cost of Energy Analysis – Version 8.0.” Lazard. Sep. 2014. <http://www.lazard.com/PDF/Levelized%20Cost%20of%20Energy%20-%20Version%208.0.pdf>
- Lantz, E., M. Hand, and R. Wiser. The Past and Future Cost of Wind Energy. Rep. no. NREL/CP-6A20-54526. National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Aug. 2012. Web. <http://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy12osti/54526.pdf>
- Real delivered gas prices are predicted to rise from $3.44 in 2012 to somewhere between $5.76 (reference case) and $7.28 (high gas price case) in 2025. US DOE. EIA. Annual Energy Outlook 2014- Energy Prices by Sector and Source <http://www.eia.gov/oiaf/aeo/tablebrowser/#release=AEO2014&subject=0-AEO2014&table=3-AEO2014®ion=1-0&cases=lowresource-d112913a,ref2014-d102413a>