The majority of Maryland’s electricity comes from fossil fuels, including coal and natural gas, which pollute the air, endanger public health, and contribute to the climate change effects of global warming. To jumpstart the development of clean energy sources, other states have set ambitious climate goals, increasing the percentages of energy mandated to be generated from renewable sources to 50%—or even 100%—of all energy produced. A similar effort set Maryland on a winning path: expansion of renewables development, environmental and public health benefits of cleaner air, and training and job growth in the clean energy sector.
Chesapeake Climate Action Network
Chesapeake Climate Action Network (CCAN) generates support for policies that benefit low-income residents and the environment in Baltimore and Maryland. In 2018, CCAN, in partnership with the Maryland League of Conservation Voters (LCV), built an impressive coalition of over 650 organizations and businesses that signed onto a resolution to increase the state’s clean energy production requirement to a 50% Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS). The list of supporters was striking in both number and scope, including environmentalists, businesses, labor, faith leaders, low-income advocates, and social justice organizations from across Maryland.
CCAN Executive Director Mike Tidwell expressed high hopes that with such strong public and legislative support, a bill to increase the proportion of energy production that comes from renewable sources would be passed by the Maryland General Assembly in 2018. The Renewable Portfolio Standard has proven to be a very effective way to stimulate renewable energy generation and create jobs in Maryland. Clean, renewable energy has become a powerful driver of economic development and job creation in Maryland, whose solar industry now boasts over 245 companies and employs nearly 5,000 residents.
The momentum built in 2018 carried over to the General Assembly session of 2019. With Abell support of $120,000 over two years, CCAN, in partnership with LCV, continued its education and advocacy efforts into the second year. A Clean Energy Jobs Act substantially similar to the previous year’s language was introduced in Annapolis. On the very last day of the General Assembly session in 2019, the bill passed with veto-proof majorities in the House and Senate. The bill included provisions to double the RPS, requiring utilities, local governments, and service providers to increase clean energy production from the then-current 25% requirement by 2020 to 50% by 2030. Raising Maryland’s RPS is projected to expand the number of jobs in the solar industry to nearly 20,000. Increasing Maryland’s wind production is estimated to reduce 8.1 million metric tons of CO2, the carbon equivalent of taking 1.7 million cars off the road each year.
Baltimore City is expected to yield significant benefits as a result of the legislation. The act created a $17 million job training and business development program, funded by auction proceeds from the state’s Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and other negotiated settlements with energy companies managed by the Maryland Energy Administration. A large portion of the job training investments under this initiative will be spent in Baltimore. A significant portion of the funds will go to the Maryland Employment Advancement Right Now (EARN) program to create a clean energy workforce track.
Information published March 2021.