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Maryland’s Clean Energy Economy: Innovation Powered by Progressive Policy

By Kathy Magruder, Executive Director of Maryland Clean Energy Center

Progressive policy support, entrepreneurial innovation, and advocacy efforts have turned Maryland into one of the strongest clean energy markets in America. This growing strength was on display at the 2012 Maryland Clean Energy Summit, held September 17-19 outside Baltimore.

Maryland’s government has created a policy environment that is empowering our state’s clean energy industry to grow, generating investments and creating green jobs, despite an overall slow national economic recovery.

Since 2007, more than 150 megawatts (MW) of new solar and wind have been built across the state, and Maryland currently generates 6.7 percent of its energy from in-state renewables. Much of the state’s future generation growth is projected to come from wind and solar, and we are on track to achieve a 20 percent by 2022 renewable portfolio standard (RPS), including a two percent solar carve-out.

As our energy mix gets greener, we’re also reducing our emissions. The Greenhouse Gas Solutions Act will cut greenhouse gas emissions 25 percent by 2020, relative to 2006 levels, and Maryland participates in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), designed to reduce carbon dioxide from electricity generation 10 percent from current levels by 2019.

Maryland is also creating a more efficient energy economy. The EmPOWER Maryland Energy Efficiency Act targets a 15 percent reduction in per capita energy consumption and per capita peak demand. Peak demand has fallen 9.1 percent since 2007, and state energy efficiency programs have saved residents more than 1.26 million megawatt-hours (MWh) of electricity through 2011.

Through the Maryland Home Energy Loan Program (MHELP), more than 204 loans have directly been made to homeowners for energy efficiency projects. Since 2011, a total of $1.6 million in loans have closed, leveraging $681,000 in additional funds. These projects have saved 775,000 kilowatt-hours (KWh) and created 4,900 full-time employment hours.

Because of these policies, the state’s clean energy industry is thriving. A recent industry survey of 500 clean energy businesses registered with the Maryland Clean Energy Center (MCEC) revealed half expected to employ more workers in 2012 compared to 2011, and nearly 40 percent reported more than $1 million in revenue. The most recently available Bureau of Labor Statistics analysis found 87,400 green jobs across Maryland, 3.6 percent of all jobs statewide.

Several Maryland clean energy entrepreneurs were recognized by the Maryland Clean Energy Center for their work in the sector at the recent Maryland Clean Energy Summit, including Ecobeco, a company collecting and distributing home energy efficiency measurement metrics; Fiberight, a company transforming post-recycled municipal solid waste and organic feed stocks into next-generation biofuels; and the Non-Profit Energy Alliance, 60 companies that have pooled their electricity demand to save $511,000 on their utility bills while purchasing 23 million KWh of wind energy.

These innovators, and more clean energy technology startups, are profiled in this video:

Maryland may be a small state, but we are generating big clean energy results that come from a stable policy outlook and entrepreneurial business spirit and we are on the path to a sustainable energy economy that will power green growth for years to come.

Author Bio: Kathy Magruder is executive director of the Maryland Clean Energy Center (MCEC). The MCEC was created in 2008 to help transform the state’s energy economy with programs that catalyze business growth, increase green collar jobs, and make clean energy technologies, products, and services affordable and accessible for state residents.

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