Before key hearing, industry representatives call to double the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard to 50 percent by 2030
Annapolis, MD – Ahead of today’s Senate hearing on the Maryland Clean Energy Jobs Act (Senate Bill 516 / House Bill 1158), renewable energy industry representatives joined environmental, faith, health, labor and civic organizations at a press conference to push for the passage of the bill. The Clean Energy Jobs Act would require the state to get half of its energy from renewable sources — such as wind and solar power — by 2030, and it will create a path to help Maryland reach 100 percent renewable energy by 2040.
Proponents of the bill point to a report that it will also help create sustainable clean energy jobs in Maryland over the next decade, including more than 20,000 jobs from an increased focus on solar power and 5,500 from greater reliance on offshore wind energy.
“From flooding in Annapolis and Ellicott City to land loss on the Eastern Shore, we are already seeing the environmental and economic impacts of climate change on our state,” says Karla Raettig, Executive Director of the Maryland League of Conservation Voters. “What we can’t always see are the health impacts such as an increased likelihood of developing asthma, stroke, heart disease and cancer from the effects of heat waves and air pollution. The time is now to fight climate change and its impacts while expanding jobs, investment and tax revenue in our state.”
Advocates caution that if the bill is not passed this year, Maryland will not only lose precious time to prevent further devastation from climate change, the state will also leave money and opportunity on the table.
“We have a choice in Maryland,” says David Murray, Executive Director of Maryland, D.C. and Virginia Solar Energy Industries Association (MDV-SEIA). “We could delay clean energy action and allow the state’s solar industry to continue its decline, after it lost 800 jobs last year. Or, we can pass the Clean Energy Jobs Act and create tens of thousands of new Maryland solar jobs.”
While Maryland’s solar industry had employed more than 5,000 Marylanders in 2017, recent studies show the state lost more than 800 of these solar jobs last year. These jobs typically pay at least $18 an hour. The Trump Administration’s tariffs on solar and other industries are contributing to this decline, as is the uncertainty around Maryland’s current Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS), which is set to expire in 2020.
“In order for Maryland to stay competitive in the offshore wind industry, we can’t wait another year to pass this legislation,” said Bruce Burcat, Executive Director of the Mid-Atlantic Renewable Energy Coalition. “New Jersey and New York are surging ahead while Maryland is lagging behind. The Maryland General Assembly needs to bring those jobs here by passing the Clean Energy Jobs Act this session.”
Federal renewable energy tax credits will decline in 2020, so the economic difference between passing the Clean Energy Jobs Act in 2019 versus 2020 would be tens of millions of dollars.
Advocates point out that Maryland’s current RPS expires next year and, without legislation to ensure ongoing demand, renewable energy companies will continue to pull out of Maryland, and we’ll lose out to neighboring states in the competition for investment dollars. This legislation enables Maryland to catch up with nearby Washington, D.C., New Jersey and New York, which are already implementing 50 percent renewable electricity goals.
“Climate change is a reality and those in leadership must take action,” said Senator Brian J. Feldman (D-15, Montgomery County), the bill’s Senate sponsor. “By passing The Clean Energy Jobs Act we can increase our renewable energy use and expand the number of green jobs in Maryland. We must move forward now to protect future generations.”
More than 600 organizations across Maryland have endorsed the legislation, including the Maryland League of Conservation Voters, CCAN Action Fund, Interfaith Power & Light (DC.MD.NoVA), Maryland Environmental Health Network, 1199 SEIU and Mom’s Clean Air Force, as well as students from across the state.
The Senate version of the Clean Energy Jobs Act would exclude waste incineration from Maryland’s RPS portfolio from getting financial benefits; these resources would instead go to renewable energy expansion.
“A majority of Maryland voters agree: We need strong climate action now,” said Brooke Harper, Maryland Director of the CCAN Action Fund. “It’s time for the legislature to listen to its constituents and pass the Clean Energy Jobs Act.”
A February 2019 OpinionWorks poll shows that more than two-thirds of Maryland voters statewide (68%) would redirect public subsidy dollars to encourage more wind and solar energy, rather than toward waste incineration. According to a recent Gonzales poll, a large majority of Maryland voters (64 percent) believe Governor Hogan should support the Maryland Clean Energy Jobs Act.
Denise Robbins, CCAN Action Fund, 608-620-8819, firstname.lastname@example.org
Kristen Peterson, The Hatcher Group, email@example.com, 410-267-4156