In a 31-14 vote Wednesday, the Maryland Senate passed legislation to expand the state’s renewable portfolio standard (RPS). The bill, S.B.921, aims to increase Maryland’s current RPS from 20% by 2022, with a 2% solar carve-out, to 25% by 2020, with a 2.5% solar carve-out. The state House of Delegates passed a similar bill, H.B.1106, by a 92-43 margin last month.
According to a release from the Maryland Climate Coalition, increasing the RPS to 25% would lead to about 1.3 GW of clean energy and create more than 1,000 new solar jobs in the state. In partnership with renewable energy company SunEdison Inc., the coalition recently revealed a survey showing that the vast majority of Marylanders support the RPS expansion.
“Today’s vote is a major step toward growing Maryland’s clean energy economy,” says State Sen. Catherine Pugh, lead sponsor of S.B.921. “This bill will create good-paying jobs and healthier air for communities in Baltimore and across Maryland that urgently need both.”
“2016 is proving to be a landmark year for clean energy progress in Maryland,” adds Delegate Bill Frick, lead sponsor of H.B.1106. “Maryland has a real opportunity to harness clean energy as a new economic engine for our state.”
Although some provisions related to clean energy jobs were ultimately left out of both the House and Senate versions of the bill, the Maryland Climate Coalition says the Senate bill was amended to create a working group process among government agencies and clean energy stakeholders to examine the best funding opportunities through new and existing programs to invest in job training and to remove barriers to entry for minority- and women-owned clean energy businesses. The bill also makes small minority- and women-owned businesses in Maryland eligible to receive dedicated funding for market growth through the state’s “Strategic Energy Investment Fund,” according to the group.
Now, the House and Senate must negotiate the differences between the two versions and approve a final bill before it heads to Gov. Larry Hogan’s desk for consideration.