Solar victories abound in Maryland’s 2019 legislative session

By Lauren Barchi on April 11, 2019

The Maryland General Assembly’s legislative session has come to close, and it was one to remember. This year, like many years before, we were working and advocating through the eleventh hour to make sure your voices and solar interests were heard and to pass meaningful legislation. And because of all of our efforts, we had three major wins! We had a win for all of us who are looking to own an electric vehicle, and we had two huge solar wins that will ensure that the solar market in Maryland continues to grow in solar homeownership and in energy equity. All residents should be able to access renewable energy, and because of this session’s victories, Maryland is now three steps closer to that goal.

Clean Cars

The Clean Cars Act of 2019 indefinitely extends the state excise tax credit of up to $3,000 for purchasers of electric vehicles, whereas the current credit would expire next year. The current tax credit has been a very popular program and has helped put Maryland in a leadership position in the transition to electrified transportation. This extension will help ensure that Maryland moves toward the goals we signed onto when we adopted the zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) state action plan alongside California and seven other states.

Community Solar

Senate Bill 520 will extend the initial three-year community solar pilot program through 2024 and pushes the required delivery date for the Public Service Commission’s report on the program to 2022. Community, or shared, solar makes it possible for anyone with an electric bill to access solar energy. This is especially important for renters, low- and middle-income residents, and homeowners with buildings that are not suitable for solar installations. A variety of delays have put the program behind schedule, so extending it will allow the legislature to more fully consider the program’s successes and challenges and formulate any changes to improve the program.

Clean Energy Jobs

The Clean Energy Job Act of 2019 increases the state’s renewable portfolio standard (RPS) to 50% by 2028. It also includes nation-leading 14.5% solar carve-out, which will create an estimated 5,000 MW in new, in-state solar installations. A 50% RPS is estimated to produce 20,000 new Maryland jobs through 2028. Maryland’s Climate Action Plan found that the existing RPS, 25% by 2020, is already expected to generate $6.4 billion in net economic output, and $4.3 billion in wages over the lifetime of the program.

This fight isn’t over yet, though. It’s unclear if Governor Larry Hogan will sign the Clean Energy Jobs Act, as he’s vetoed similar legislation in the past. That’s why we need your solar voice today: tell the governor to sign the Clean Energy Jobs Act and make Maryland a national leader in solar energy.

Act now to expand solar energy in Maryland!

What’s next:

In the coming months, we will be focusing on local legislation, zoning rules, and building the ground work for the 2020 legislative session. If there is a local piece of legislation that you’re looking at or want some help in supporting or opposing, please reach out to us at [email protected], on Facebook, or on Twitter. We rely on activists like you to help us stay on top of all the changes that local governments are proposing across the state. If you’d like to get directly involved in local solar movements across the state, follow this link to join the Maryland Solar Action Team.

Thank you to all of our supporters and advocates. We couldn’t have reached all of these goals without your energy and dedication to the cause. It’s your hard work and support that make these victories possible. You’ve written e-mails and letter to the editors, you’ve made calls and set up meetings with your legislators. Your work is invaluable, so thank you for your support. We look forward to achieving even more with you throughout the coming months and beyond.