ORIGINAL REPORTING: The Maryland RPS And The National Divide On Clean Energy
It's the economy: Maryland RPS debate illustrates national divide on clean energy policy; States with RPS laws are doubling down, while those without take little interest. Maryland could help explain why.
Herman K. Trabish, May 10, 2016 (Utility Dive)
Editor’s note: The change in politics at the federal level since this piece ran is expected to make state efforts all the more important.
A curious trend is emerging when it comes to renewable energy mandates: Many states that have them are doubling down, while those that don’t are showing little interest at all. Since 2009, only Vermont has enacted a new renewable portfolio standard (RPS), yet five states with an RPS on the books strengthened them in the last two years alone. The debate behind Maryland’s recent decision to strengthen its renewable energy standards shows there’s more to the recent trend than ideology alone. The Clean Energy Jobs Act of 2016 (SB 921) passed by large majorities in both houses increased the state renewable portfolio standard (RPS) from 20% by 2022 to 25% by 2020 but it took three years to push through because a lot of legislators wanted to know what good it would do their constituents.
A strong backing coalition began with environmental groups and brought in business and labor organizations in the second year. In the past year, they reached out to health care groups and faith groups. Each of those then engaged their constituencies, creating a grassroots momentum the lawmakers could not ignore. Choptank Electric Cooperative, the biggest cooperative on Maryland’s rural, largely conservative Eastern Shore, was the main utility supporting the bill but other electricity providers didn’t oppose it. More votes turned in favor of the bill when current analyses showing the plan will result in estimated economic benefits of between $2.5 billion and $3.5 billion in increased economic output by 2020 and help create and maintain between 26,000 and 33,000 new jobs were highlighted… click here for more