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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.

That’s why a broad and diverse coalition of environmentalists, public health officials, business leaders, faith leaders, academics, low-income advocates and social justice advocates have come together to call on Maryland’s General Assembly 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 the largest dedicated clean energy jobs and business development program in state history. 

After three years of pushing the General Assembly to expand Maryland’s clean energy standard, we are sending another landmark piece of climate legislation to Governor Hogan’s desk. The Maryland Senate passed the Clean Energy Jobs Act (SB 921) with a veto-proof vote of 31-14, following the House of Delegate’s overwhelming approval of the bill (HB 1106).

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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.

Healthier Air

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Fossil fuel combustion is a public health crisis. More than 85% of Marylanders live in areas that fail to meet the nation’s clean air standards, and the state has the notorious distinction of being the worst in the eastern U.S. for ground-level ozone pollution. These health burdens harm low-income people and people of color disproportionately. More clean energy will significantly improve the state’s air quality while preventing 50 to 110 premature deaths per year and increasing regional economic growth by $458 million to $1 billion annually due to better health outcomes.

Good-Paying Jobs

By increasing our clean power to 25% by 2020, Maryland is poised to stimulate a statewide resurgence of manufacturing and construction jobs. By increasing the carve-out for solar, we will see the growth of nearly 2,000 new high-paying Maryland solar jobs and new solar companies in Maryland. Increased incentives for land-based wind power would create another 4,600 jobs in our region.

Lawmakers intend to couple higher goals with millions in new funding for clean energy workforce training, minority, and women-owned business growth, and other potential programs to promote a sustainable economy. These investments would help create and sustain jobs where they’re needed most, and start to unlock the full talent of our state’s clean energy entrepreneurs.

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.

Better Reliability

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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

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  • Average solar prices have fallen 63% since 2010 as U.S. installations have increased by 600%.
  • 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 58% 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.

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Clean Energy is Achievable in Maryland 

Maryland already has a requirement of 20% clean power by 2022. Increasing the state’s clean electricity standard to 25% by 2025 and beyond is not only critical to protecting our climate, our health, and our economy, it’s also very achievable. Maryland has only scratched the surface of our clean energy potential. The state could meet its current electricity demand by tapping just 10% of available renewable resources.

Take Action

With your help, we can convince our lawmakers to 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.

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References

  1. “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.
  2.  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>
  3.  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>
  4. 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>
  5. “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>
  6. 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>
  7. 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&region=1-0&cases=lowresource-d112913a,ref2014-d102413a>