Sponsors of a bill to increase Maryland’s renewable portfolio standard joined environmental advocates Jan. 5 in calling for the General Assembly to override Gov. Larry Hogan’s veto.
Rallying on the steps of the Maryland State House, Sen. Brian Feldman and Delegate Bill Frick, both Democrats representing Montgomery County, attempted to link Hogan’s veto of the measure — dubbed the Clean Energy Jobs Act — to the anti-environmental sentiment of President-elect Donald Trump.
“We’re here because the administration decided to play politics,” Frick said.
Hogan vetoed the bill last year because it would increase rates to cover the costs of additional wind and solar generation.
The legislature returns next week for its annual 90-day session and could consider the measure then. The bill would increase Maryland’s RPS requirements from 20% by 2022 to 25% by 2020, improve access to capital for small, minority and women-owned renewable energy businesses, and commission an industry workforce-needs study.
Frick said the bill has 70% public support.
Renewable industry representatives were supportive as well. Kevin Sheen, spokesman for Empower, promised the wind and solar company would continue investing in the state and said increasing the RPS was “imperative.”
Dana Sleeper, executive director of the Maryland/D.C./Virginia chapter of the Solar Energy Industries Association, said there are about 4,000 solar industry workers in Maryland making an average of $21/hour. It’s important to have such low-skill jobs in the state, Sleeper said.
– Rory D. Sweeney