As Solar United Neighbors continues to grow the solar movement in Maryland, we are continuing to grow our advocacy work, which now includes our Solar Action Team. During the 2019 legislative session, the team successfully pushed for a clean and equitable energy system in Maryland that directs control and benefits back to local communities, with solar on every roof and money in every pocket.
The team’s first primary legislative focus this year was helping to pass the Clean Energy Jobs Act, which will increase renewable energy production in Maryland to 50% by 2030 and increase local solar power by 600%. This work included contacting key legislators by phone and email, supporting and participating in rallies, and a lobby day in early in the session. The bill eventually passed in a dramatic fashion on the last day of the legislative session, and is now waiting to be signed by Governor Larry Hogan.
John McNamara was a member of the 2016 Montgomery County Solar Co-op before joining the Maryland Solar Action Team. He commented on our lobby day, stating: “I went to my first info session with Solar United Neighbors of Maryland thinking I would learn about reducing my carbon footprint. I did, but more intriguingly, it was the best FINANCIAL advice I’d gotten in a long time,” McNamara said. “My solar panels generate a better return than the rest of my retirement portfolio. I’d like us to tell that story more, maybe to professional financial planners, who would then recommend it to their clients.”
It’s comments like this that help us explain to legislators and Maryland citizens just how important solar power is and just how helpful it can be to both our state’s residents and its environment.
The Maryland Solar Action Team is led by our most active volunteers and Maryland Program Director Lauren Barchi with support from our national policy and communications staff. Through online and in-person outreach, we continue to encourage Solar United Neighbors of Maryland members and supporters to join the team. Ultimately, the team seeks to empower its members to be strong solar advocates in their communities and throughout the state.
One of the Maryland Solar Action Team’s long-term goals is to increase the number of solar supporters in the state who are motivated to engage with their elected and appointed officials via email, phone, in-person meetings, public hearing testimonies, direct lobbying, and any other channel we can use to get our message through. A large part of this initiative is training our Solar Action Team members how to be confident in their work and messaging. The team engages solar homeowner advocates on priority legislative and regulatory issues both at the state and local levels.
Through the Maryland Solar Action Team program, we aim to build a more powerful grassroots network of empowered solar advocates across our state and provide a model for the Solar United Neighbors network in other states.
If you are interested in joining the Maryland Solar Action Team, please e-mail Lauren Barchi at [email protected].