Maryland Approves Energy Efficiency and Solar Energy Bills
Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley signed 173 bills on April 24th, including three bills to encourage energy efficiency and renewable energy within the state. Senate Bill 103, the Maryland Clean Cars Act of 2007, requires the state's Department of Environment to follow California's lead in establishing a low-emissions vehicle program that will go into effect with the 2011 model year. The program will include limits on greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles. Senate Bill 332 establishes the Maryland Green Building Council, which will advise the governor and state legislators on how to use green building principles in state construction projects. See the governor's press release, the full 51-page list of signed bills (PDF 196 KB), and the legislative Web pages for SB 103 and SB 332. Download Adobe Reader.
Though the governor focused on the two efficiency bills, a renewable energy bill is likely to have an equal or greater impact on the state. Senate Bill 595 modifies the state's renewable energy requirement to include a minimum percentage of solar power, starting at 0.005 percent of retail electricity sales in 2008 and increasing to 2 percent of electricity sales by 2022. The new solar requirement is added on to the previous renewable requirement, which called for 7.5 percent renewable energy by 2019. The bill also increases the maximum size of customer-owned, grid-connected power systems for net metering from 200 kilowatts to 2 megawatts, and requires utilities to provide net metering for up to 1,500 megawatts of customer-owned generation systems. Net metering allows customers to earn credit for power fed back into the electrical grid. The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) hailed the passage of the bill, claiming that it will make Maryland into one of the nation's largest markets for solar energy. See the legislative Web page for SB 595 and the SEIA press release.
Maryland also signed onto the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative on April 20th, making it the tenth state to join the regional effort to cut greenhouse gas emissions. Governor O'Malley also signed an executive order creating a commission to examine ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions within the state and to develop a strategy to reduce Maryland's vulnerability to climate change. See the governor's press release.