For many years, Maryland has been a leader in solar policy and solar deployment. In the last 3 years, we’ve fallen behind other states, watching our robust growth give way to several years of decline. It’s almost hard to believe, but Maryland has been losing solar jobs for more than two years after peaking at approximately 5300 in late 2016.
Why is this happening? One of the biggest reasons is the value of the state solar production incentive, the SREC (Solar Renewable Energy Certificate). Those of you who own solar or have considered buying solar are probably all too familiar with SREC pricing. Because Maryland property owners adopted so much solar in the first half of the decade, we outpaced the state’s goals, depressing the value of the market-based SREC incentive. This was a good problem for the industry to have until it became clear that our goal (25% renewables by 2025 with 2.5% solar by 2022) was clearly not aggressive enough.
The Time is Now
We are now at a time of severe urgency for the Maryland solar industry. With installations on the decline for over two years and job losses mounting, we are losing a trained employment base and leaving federal tax benefits on the table. The solar industry has been working with other coalition members (wind industry, environmental organizations, etc.) for a few years to try to increase the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS), but have been hampered by the Hogan Administration’s reluctance to incentivize more renewables until the completed RPS Study Report is released. The study was due to be released in December of 2018, but has been delayed and some fear this is intended to stall an RPS increase for another year. We cannot wait.
Governor Hogan has gone on record with his desire to fight climate change. He recently coauthored an OpEd in the Washington Post with Virginia’s Democratic Governor, Ralph Northam to emphasize the urgency and the need for bipartisan solutions to climate change. It is in this bipartisan spirit that we hope to see the Hogan Administration support the Maryland General Assembly in passing the Clean Energy Jobs Act
(CEJA)(SB0516, HB1158) of 2019 that will increase our renewable energy goal to 50% and the solar portion to 14.7 %. “Click here to read more about this“
No-Brainer Investment for Maryland
One of the primary arguments against increasing the RPS has to do with the impact on utility ratepayers. The preliminary indication is that the increased renewable goals associated with the CEJA will add approximately $1.85/mo. to the average electricity bill. While this is not insignificant, it is important to note that a 2018 Daymark study, commissioned by the Hogan Administration’s Public Service Commission, found that for every $1.00 of investment in solar, we return approximately $5.00 in economic and health benefits to the state. Solar jobs are good jobs that pay well, representing a path to economic stability for many installers. And best of all, solar installation jobs cannot be exported.
We need YOUR help
As a solar advocate, we ask that you commit to express your support for CEJA in the Maryland legislative session this year. The bill has been submitted and we should have a bill number shortly. In the meantime, please continue to advocate for more solar whenever you can and be prepared to contact your Maryland state legislators to support this important legislation when the time comes. Stay tuned for a special email notification with the bill number, and suggested talking points in the coming weeks.