Legislators in Maryland have taken a strong stand for clean energy. This week, both the state house and senate voted to override the governor’s veto of legislation increasing the state’s renewable portfolio standard (RPS) from 20 percent by 2022 to 25 percent by 2020. The override passed by comfortable margins, defying public efforts by Republican Governor Larry Hogan to mislead the public about the cost of the program or impact on customers.
Already a leader in clean energy policy, Maryland has responded to popular demand for increases in solar and wind energy, and has reaped the benefits of that leadership with a healthy solar market that created over 4,200 solar jobs in the state as of 2015. The Maryland General Assembly’s strong support in both houses for the 2016 Clean Energy Jobs Act raising the state RPS further affirms the broad support for maintaining Maryland’s leadership.
Governor Hogan surprised Marylanders by vetoing this popular bill last May and attempting to misrepresent the RPS expansion as an expensive “tax increase,” despite studies showing minimal cost impacts to utility customers. Hogan even launched a public campaign to stop the legislature from overriding his veto of what he called the “sunshine tax.”
In the end, voters and legislators saw through the governor’s smokescreen, thanks to effective advocacy and public education from advocate groups like MDV SEIA, MD SUN, Maryland League of Conservation Voters, and the Chesapeake Climate Action Network. The override votes won by wide margins (88-51 and 32-32), just as they did last year, showing that the popularity of clean energy can withstand high-profile attacks from politicians who ignore what people want for our energy future.
The result is a big win for solar and renewables in Maryland. State lawmakers elsewhere should take note: this is what clean energy leadership looks like.