Maryland Gov. Vetoes Clean Energy Bill, Solar Job Losses Could Follow

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Maryland’s Republican Governor, Larry Hogan, stunned the state’s solar industry with his recent unexpected veto of a bill that would increase the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard to 25% by 2020, which may bring about the loss of solar jobs in Maryland.

The veto appeared to be somewhat of a reversal of the Governor’s stance on clean energy, as he just recently signed off on SB 323, the Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Act, which requires that Maryland reduce its statewide greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 40% from 2006 levels by 2030, and which is (was?) expected to help create (and maintain) some tens of thousands of jobs in the state.

The sponsor of the vetoed bill, which is entitled Clean Energy Jobs – Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard Revisions, Delegate Bill Frick, told ThinkProgress, “It was infuriating,” and that the veto was ” … about partisanship and pointing fingers … ” According to Frick, Hogan’s office “never engaged” with the legislature during the writing of the bill, and then simply vetoed it, offering only “after-the-fact criticism.”

“Maryland is a state that is particularly susceptible to the effects of sea level rise. It’s a state that understands the risk of climate change, and it’s a state that is seeing the benefits of clean jobs.” – Frick

Hogan, in explaining the veto to the state’s General Assembly, referred to the RPS increase as a “tax” on electricity ratepayers, saying “for that reason alone, I cannot allow it to become law.”

This view of the RPS seems to be rather misguided, considering that the original RPS bill was signed into law by former Republican Governor Bob Ehrlich in 2004, and that a recent analysis of the RPS found that the programs could yield some $6.5 billion in economic output, along with supporting at least 3,500 jobs in the state by 2020. The proposed bill would have only raised residential customers’ bills by as little as $.08 per month in 2017, and hit a peak of somewhere between $.77 and $3 per month by 2020, and afterward falling again to level off at about $1 per month.

This veto also seems to go against what Marylanders want, as the results of a recent poll showed that “74 percent of Maryland voters, including a majority of Republicans,” support the Clean Energy Jobs Act.

Maryland’s solar industry may see job losses (or simply fewer jobs created) thanks to this veto, and although the state isn’t a top-of-mind solar state, it ranks at 11th nationwide in installed solar capacity, and currently supports some 4,300 solar jobs. Some solar advocates expressed their dismay in the Governor’s actions, saying, “This veto puts thousands of solar jobs and hundreds of local companies at risk,” endangering the livelihoods of thousands of residents and stalling economic development to the tune of millions of dollars.


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Derek Markham

Derek lives in southwestern New Mexico and digs bicycles, simple living, fungi, organic gardening, sustainable lifestyle design, bouldering, and permaculture. He loves fresh roasted chiles, peanut butter on everything, and buckets of coffee.

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