April 4th, 2012
After toeing the line for the past few weeks, just this morning the Maryland state legislature passed a bill (SB 791) that will provide robust and sustainable solar growth for years to come. Passing the State Senate 37-9, it is clear that Maryland’s policy-makers understand the significant benefits that solar is bringing to the Old-Line State. » Read the rest of this entry «
February 8th, 2012
As the home of some pioneering community solar projects, Maryland’s clean energy champions are seeking to establish a platform on which these renewable energy arrangements can flourish.
Recently introduced as Senate Bill 595, state lawmakers will be considering a proposal that would enable Maryland residents and small-businesses to join together in sharing the costs and benefits of renewable energy.
Most commonly conceived as a single renewable energy system in which individuals can invest in a portion of a facility’s clean generating potential, these arrangements offer a direct experience for those unable to install on-site renewable energy. For those that have a shaded roof or rent, community solar offer the promise of renewable energy access.
As an increasing number of jurisdictions look to broaden accessibility to the solar economy through this concept (e.g., here), we applaud these efforts for bringing solar into the mainstream. We look forward to this trend.
Hats off to Maryland for getting out of the gate early.
July 21st, 2011
Following last week’s posting on the recent developments in Connecticut, this week we head south to explore the latest and greatest coming out of the State of Maryland. Other than summer crab feasts on the Chesapeake Bay, that is.
Maryland – Building strong market fundamentals
Requiring all electricity suppliers to secure at least 2.0% of their retail sales from solar facilities by 2022, Maryland is positioned to develop more than 1,250 MW of solar capacity over the coming decade. Importantly, beginning in 2012 solar facilities must be connected to the distribution grid serving Maryland in order to satisfy compliance with the state’s RPS requirements. As such, the state’s solar policy will truly stimulate local opportunities for Marylanders.
And while Maryland has established and maintained important foundations to stimulate growth in the solar energy economy (e.g., see here), the absence of some critical market fundamentals has the potential to frustrate new solar development.
» Read the rest of this entry «
May 25th, 2011
Over the past year and to the chagrin of many, Maryland has struggled to ensure that its net metering program remains an effective policy mechanism for the future of solar deployment. Of particular concern was legislation passed in 2010 that would have significantly weakened the state’s net metering policy by eliminating the ability for a customer to rollover excess generation from month to month at the full retail rate. Fortunately, the state’s renewable energy champions and stakeholders made this issue a priority during this year’s 428th legislative session. Result: Maryland’s net metering program will keep on rolling. » Read the rest of this entry «
May 5th, 2009
Maryland, New Mexico and Virginia just joined the municipal-tax assessment solar financing party (a trend I wrote about in February). We haven’t figured out a catchy acronym yet, but trust me, this policy is hot. The state legislators we are working with consistently tell me that this is their ‘favorite clean energy policy.’
Why so popular this legislative session? Frankly, it’s well suited for these troubled economic times. It’s meaningful solar policy that doesn’t add more red to strapped state budgets. It’s a fiscally painless way that legislators can help constituents go solar without breaking the bank. And it shows the feds that they’re taking the new green economy seriously.
State and Local Interplay
In most cases, local jurisdictions need authorization from statewide legislation before they can create property tax financing districts. Once statewide legislation is passed, cities can start programs that help property owners go solar without any daunting upfront costs. Instead, those home or business owners can choose to get a loan from the city to cover system costs and then pay it back over 20 years through a little bump in their property taxes.
Already this year we’ve seen Virginia, New Mexico and Maryland join California and Colorado in passing enabling legislation. And there are still several pending bills across the country: Nevada, New York, Oregon, Texas, Vermont, and Wisconsin could all join the party in the few remaining weeks of this legislative session. We will keep you posted.
Considering the popularity of these programs in cities where they’re already up and running, this legislative trend spells exciting times ahead for solar all across the U.S. Take a look:
- Berkeley, California was the first out of the gate last year when it passed an ordinance to enable residents to spread out the cost of renewable energy systems and energy efficiency upgrades into a 20-year increased assessment on their property taxes. The FIRST program is still in the pilot project phase, with 40 homes participating, and $1.5 million budgeted.
- Boulder, Colorado held its first application period in early April with 519 properties signed up in one week. Their program’s first bond will be for $9.55 million to finance solar PV, solar thermal, and energy efficiency projects.
- San Francisco, California plans to disburse $20 million to $30 million in loans to home and business owners by the end of 2009.