Annapolis, Md., Tuesday, April 12, 2016 — American wind power hailed the Maryland Legislature’s historic move to obtain 25 percent of its electricity from renewable sources within four years, and is prepared to do its part to meet the standard if it becomes law. Both the state Senate and House have now passed SB 921, the Clean Energy Jobs Act. It now goes to Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan for his signature.
Maryland's move to increase its renewable portfolio standard (RPS) comes as the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) releases its 2015 U.S. Wind Industry Annual Market Report in Denver showing the wind industry reached a record 88,000 American jobs, up 20 percent in a year. By continuing to grow to 20 percent of the U.S. electricity mix by 2030, wind energy can employ 380,000 American workers.
“We applaud Sen. Pugh, Del. Frick and the Assembly for their vote to create well-paying jobs, save consumers money, and fight carbon pollution,” said Tom Kiernan, CEO of AWEA. “Maryland’s leadership on clean energy has already led to significant employment and improvements in air quality. These benefits can continue, and wind is among the biggest, fastest, cheapest options to get this job done, while locking in low prices for 20 years or more. The Clean Energy Jobs Act is a giant step forward, and American wind power encourages Gov. Hogan to sign it into law.”
The Clean Energy Jobs Act would advance the state’s RPS by raising and accelerating the current standard of 20 percent renewable energy by 2022 to instead get to 25 percent renewable energy by 2020. Sponsored by state Sen. Cathy Pugh and Del. Bill Frick, the measure passed both chambers by overwhelming majorities.
The bill heads to the Governor’s desk just a week after Hogan signed the Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reductions Act, which requires Maryland to reduce statewide emissions by 40 percent from 2006 levels by 2030.
"With the passage of this landmark legislation today, Maryland has renewed its commitment to a sustainable energy future. More low-cost clean energy on Maryland's grid will drive job creation and economic growth while improving the environment and public health,” said Andrew Gohn, Eastern Region Director for AWEA.
With the Governor’s signature, Maryland would join a recent resurgence of states choosing to advance their existing RPS laws in order to reduce carbon emissions and cut costs by diversifying their electricity mix. Oregon recently passed legislation raising its RPS to 50 percent renewables by 2040 and California passed legislation late last year increasing its RPS to 50 percent by 2030.
By growing renewable energy, the Free State will create a more diverse energy mix. In addition to creating jobs, this is expected to improve air quality, conserve water, and address the risk of rising fuel prices by locking in today’s record-low prices for wind power. Thanks to American innovation leading to technological improvements, wind power costs two-thirds less than it did six years ago.
Wind projects have brought $330 million in investment to Maryland to date. It currently supports up to 500 well-paying jobs in the state, including manufacturing jobs at factories building parts and materials for wind turbines.
A recent national report from Lawrence Berkley National Lab and the National Renewable Energy Lab show that renewable energy projects built to fulfill state RPS policies created billions in economic and environmental savings, and led to the addition of more than 200,000 jobs nationwide.
Gov. Hogan’s decision will come shortly after a bipartisan group of 17 governors signed a pledge to accelerate clean energy growth, including wind power, as a way to build “a new energy future.” The governors said this new energy path will result in “more durable and resilient infrastructure, and enable economic growth, while protecting the health of our communities and natural resources.”