Scores of solar supporters from across the state braved the rain to join together on Sunday, September 23 for the 3rd Annual Maryland Solar Congress at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. The free event brought together longtime solar advocates, solar homeowners, and newcomers just finding out about solar in their communities for a full day of learning, sharing, and discussion about the present and future of solar power in Maryland.
Solar United Neighbors of Maryland Program Director Lauren Barchi kicked things off with opening remarks, discussing the state of solar in Maryland and setting the table for the day to come. And what a day it was—jam packed with a program covering everything from the basics of solar energy technology; to more advanced technical subjects like the benefits of combining solar panels with battery storage; to a discussion of a new approach to solar advocacy in Maryland; to a deep dive into innovative solar policy programs designed to expand solar access like Maryland’s community solar pilot program.
The day’s first session included a panel discussion about the prospects for community solar in Maryland. The Climate Access Fund’s Lynn Heller moderated a panel that included Delegate Luke Clippinger, a champion of the legislation that created the community solar program in Maryland, along with Mike Miller of Ogos Energy, and Joyce Breiner from Poolesville Green and a Solar United Neighbors of Maryland Advisory Board Member. The panelists engaged on the existing challenges of siting in both urban and rural areas around the state, and acknowledged the regulatory challenges that have delayed progress on community solar and will likely lead to an extension of the pilot program in this year’s General Assembly session.
The day continued with two concurrent sessions. Barchi presented about combining battery storage with solar in Maryland in one session while Solar United Neighbors Policy Director Glen Brand discussed the new Maryland Solar Action Team program designed to empower Maryland solar supporters to fight for their solar rights across the state.
After lunch, the discussion turned to the top clean energy policy priority for the 2019 General Assembly session that will start in January: The Clean Energy Jobs Act. The bill would increase Maryland’s renewable portfolio standard (RPS), requiring that 50% of energy used in Maryland be from renewable sources by 2032—drastically increasing the amount of locally generated solar energy along the way. David Murray of MDVSEIA and Brooke Harper of CCAN provided their insight and political expertise to discuss the legislation and its prospects in the upcoming legislative session.
Finally, the day came to a close with an open plenary where Maryland Solar Congress participants could synthesize all the information from the day while openly discussing what they learned and how they hope the solar community in Maryland will continue to advance.
Thank you to everyone who joined us for this exciting event and thank you to our hosts at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. The 3rd Annual Maryland Solar Congress was a great success—and we’re already looking forward to next year!
You can see the full agenda from the day on the main Maryland Solar Congress page.