2018 was truly an amazing year for solar here in Maryland. We have seen legislation challenges and opportunities, the launch of new initiatives, and an expansion in our nation-wide network. The year included another awesome Maryland Solar Congress and the largest National Solar Tour ever, among many other events to remember. With the year now in our rearview mirror, here are just a few of the highlights:
This year we tried new areas and a new idea. In addition to organizing our standard solar co-ops, this year we completed a pilot co-op for solar owners interested in adding battery storage to their existing solar system. We learned a lot from our Storage co-op. Battery storage takes a little extra education. We developed a new information session specifically tailored for answering questions about battery storage and new educational materials like our Battery Storage Guide.
We also launched a new co-op in Howard County, a new part of the state for our program. The Howard County Solar Co-op is still open and growing as we continue to expand our reach in the area by working with new community partners.
There have been some ups and downs for Maryland community solar this year. We continue to face existing challenges posed by siting community solar projects in both urban and rural areas around the state, including Montgomery, Anne Arundel, and Baltimore Counties. We have also navigated the tricky terrain of regulatory challenges that have delayed progress on Maryland’s community solar pilot program.
Despite these challenges, 2018 also saw many exciting milestones for community solar. We launched our new Community Solar Platform which allows consumers to compare community solar subscription opportunities available to them in a straightforward, apples-to-apples manner. We also supported the first community solar project to come online in Maryland, a 9 kW system that will offset much of the electricity costs for a few rental properties in Baltimore City. We are also currently gearing up to extend the Community Solar Pilot Program in this year’s General Assembly session—but more on that shortly.
This year, advocates have taken their game to the next level. At the beginning of 2018, our supporters and other renewable energy advocates joined two rallies and a lobby day that helped spread the word about the Clean Energy Jobs Act. Throughout the year, we joined many solar supporters in providing testimony at the Maryland General Assembly and at several county councils to support smart solar policy around the state. We also mobilized solar supporters from around the state to block proposed fee increases that could have threatened the future of solar in Maryland.
In part driven by a desire to improve the effectiveness of our organizing and advocacy, we launched the Maryland Solar Action Team to help coordinate grassroots solar supporter advocacy. The Solar Action team has already hosted multiple webinars to help engage solar supporters and train them about how to help build the solar movement in their communities—and how to effectively take the fight to their representatives!
Looking forward to 2019
This year, we are picking up where we left off in 2018 with the fight to pass the Clean Energy Jobs Act, as well as any legislation to extend the Community Solar Pilot Program. We are also hoping to be more engaged in local zoning laws to ensure community solar has a smooth path, as well as continuing to add community solar projects to our platform. We will also be continuing our solar co-ops to ensure as many Marylanders as possible can go solar and take advantage of the 30% federal tax credit before it starts to drop in 2020.
We can’t wait to engage with you in the coming year!