|2012 Legislative Spotlight: Maryland|
|Written by Gary|
|Wednesday, 15 February 2012 16:01|
We are about one month into this year’s General Assembly Session in Annapolis and the picture is starting to crystallize in terms of what kinds of energy bills will be debated and voted on by Maryland’s elected leaders.
Foremost is Governor Martin O’Malley’s keynote offshore wind bill. Another interesting bill, sponsored by Del. Carr and Sen. Pugh, is aiming to protect consumers from bad practices of some energy suppliers. Several other environmentally oriented bills are wending their way down the pike including a bill that would tweak the solar carve out, a bill dealing with the disposal and treatment of chicken litter, and another about energy efficiency retrofit financing, or on-bill financing.
Offshore Wind Power in MD
O’Malley has been vocal in pushing his environmental agenda, of which the development of offshore wind in Maryland’s waters (SB 237/HB 441) is key. In 2008, the General Assembly doubled Maryland’s Renewable Portfolio Standard, requiring electricity suppliers to purchase 20 percent of the electricity they sell from renewable sources by 2022. In order to meet this requirement with home grown generation, Maryland must capitalize on the resources off its shores.
The Maryland Offshore Wind Energy Act of 2012 will enable Maryland to harness the powerful gusts of wind blowing off of Maryland’s shores and to create thousands of jobs in a new offshore wind industry. By establishing an offshore wind renewable energy credit (OREC) carve-out within Maryland’s existing Renewable Portfolio Standard, the bill will create the right policy framework to encourage private investment in this emerging industry and provide our citizens with clean renewable electricity. The OREC model being proposed would allow at least a 450 MW project to be built, creating 1,800 construction jobs and 360 ongoing maintenance jobs.
Along with state environmental leaders and environmental business owners, O’Malley has been trying to position Maryland at the forefront of the domestic offshore wind power industry. Supporting offshore wind could place Maryland in an advantageous position with regard to fostering in-state green jobs, by developing supply chain and manufacturing companies to serve the offshore industry. Maryland would also be able to produce serious amounts of clean energy within its borders, rather than importing over 30% of its current electricity needs from out-of-state. Maryland consumers would also have the option to purchase wind power produced in-state at competitive rates. The offshore wind bill failed to pass last year due to cost concerns, but this year’s bill includes built-in safeguards that will limit the anticipated rate impact to $2.00 per month for the average residential customer.
Del. Al Carr and Sen. Catherine Pugh are stepping up to help protect the competitive electricity market in Maryland by providing consumers with clear rules and protections from energy suppliers that may try to take advantage of them.
Clean Currents supports this bill because we understand that protecting consumers from bad practices and setting clear rules for the market makes competition work better. As some of you may know, there are energy suppliers out there that charge inordinate cancellation fees if you break their residential electricity contract - this bill would put an end to that. The consumer protection bill would also delineate that you as a consumer can opt out of an automatic renewal if you so wish. The bill would allow you to cancel your renewal or communicate with your electric supplier via email.
There are some energy suppliers out there that will not allow you to notify them of certain things via email. Instead, they want you to contact their “call center” where you are often subjected to a badgering by customer service reps. This legislation will also ensure that if you sign up for a variable rate offer, the company will be required to let you know when the variable rate increases.
I'm like many mothers I know, concerned about the planet our kids will inherit and overwhelmed by daily life. Clean Currents made it simple and affordable to switch to 100% wind power, without breaking my back or the bank.
- Residential Customer Michelle Culp