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Maryland’s New Clean Energy Bill Is Not That Clean

  • April 15, 2019

As one of the early adopters of the renewable portfolio standing (RPS), Maryland has always been on the forefront of encouraging clean energy.  Similar to Washington D.C. and New York, the state approved a bill March 8th that would require at least 50% of its electricity consumption be from renewable sources by 2030.  Of that 50% renewable energy, 14.5% would have to come from solar energy and 1200MW of offshore wind.  Not only will this reduce the state’s carbon emissions footprint, it will increase the number of clean energy jobs within the state. 

While this push for increased renewable energy is generating many headlines, it’s only half of the story.  One reason the bill was approved was due to continued support from some of the state’s largest polluters.  Trash incinerators and paper mills will continue to be considered as Tier 1 renewable sources.  In other words, burning trash to produce power and wind energy are equal from the state’s perspective.  There are currently three active trash incineration plants that provide the state with about 10% of its renewable power, with the largest plant outside of Baltimore receiving around $10 million in incentives over the past 6 years.  Paper mills that use a substance known as black liquor accounted for 24% of the renewable energy used, receiving another $60 million in subsidies. 

Source: Maryland Public Service Commission After a few years of back and forth between the legislative branches, Maryland finally passes a bill that not only increases the renewable energy used by the state but also established steps to becoming carbon-free by 2040.  While the latest clean energy policy may not be perfect, it is a step in the right direction.

Sources:

https://energy.maryland.gov/Pages/Info/renewable/solar.aspx

https://www.psc.state.md.us/wp-content/uploads/FINAL-Renewable-Energy-Portfolio-Standard-Report-with-data-for-CY-2017.pdf

https://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/environment/bs-md-renewable-energy-passed-20190408-story.html

https://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/environment/bs-md-green-energy-law-20190409-story.html

https://www.utilitydive.com/news/maryland-50-rps-bill-doubles-offshore-wind-target-expands-solar-carve-out/552421/