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A Maryland Twofer: SREC Fix & Community Solar Bills on the Move

Maryland policymakers are considering two bills that would kick solar growth into high gear.

With a solid 2% solar goal and core policies like net metering driving in-state growth, Maryland is already well on its way to building a robust solar market. As costs have come down and the local industry has scaled, solar has been installed at a rapidly growing pace – in fact, faster than was expected when the solar statute was originally designed. As we’ve seen in Pennsylvania, a state in this high-growth situation can run the risk of a significant SREC oversupply as solar generation exceeds the utilities’ SREC requirements. This sends a once-booming solar market into a bust cycle that’s no good for local job retention and continued solar investment.

A fix may be on the way! This week, the House is holding a hearing on HB 1187, a bill that would increase the near-term requirements of the SREC program to keep solar development humming along at a sustainable rate. It does not increase the amount of solar energy generation. Nor does the bill change any of the consumer protections. What it DOES do is establish a “smoother” solar energy growth curve that is stable and more predictable. Good stuff.

There’s also more we can do to ensure that even MORE Marylanders get to participate in that growing solar market. The traditional concepts of solar ownership leave plenty of energy consumers out in the dark. Look at renters, multi-unit buildings, and historic districts for example. The old solar-panels-on-your-roof model simply doesn’t work for those homes and businesses.

New ‘community solar’ models use shared off-site projects to empower new members of the community to tap renewables for their electricity needs. But community renewables require policymakers to rethink the rules and regulations that support the traditional on-site approach. Maryland has an opportunity to be among the first in the nation to accomplish just that. The Community Renewables Energy Act (SB 595, HB 864) would establish new opportunities for Marylanders to subscribe to off-site solar and other renewable projects – and reap the bill saving benefits as if those clean energy systems were on their own roof. These shared projects would extend clean energy to a much larger and more economically diverse set of energy consumers. Hooray.

Lots on the move in the Old Line State – and we’ll need your help to get them across the finish line when these proposed policies come up for votes. Stay tuned for more!