TESTIMONY TO THE HOUSE COMMITTEE ON ECONOMIC MATTERS
HB 1149 Public Utilities - Renewable Energy Portfolio Standards
BY: Susan Cochran, President
DATE: February 27, 2014
The members of the League of Women Voters of Maryland, and our LWV members nationally, have repeatedly expressed our concern about global climate change and its impacts on our environment, our health, and our economy. We have pressed our lawmakers to work aggressively to implement policies that reduce, in a significant way, the amount of CO2 that is being emitted into our atmosphere causing our planet to heat up in an unprecedented way.
We applaud the members of the Maryland General Assembly for being one of the first states in the nation to make a commitment to wise energy planning when it passed a 2004 act (amended in 2007, 2008, and 2010) to adopt a Renewable Portfolio Standard that requires Maryland electricity suppliers to buy a growing share of their power from renewable sources. However, with global warming accelerating faster than scientists predicted even 5 years ago, we can and should do more. With just a small increase in the rate of Maryland’s RPS growth, the state can reach the Governor’s goal of 25%-by-2020 and then continue on to achieve 40% by 2025.
It has often been asked how Maryland can reach this goal. A number of strategies are in place to help us get there. Initiatives such as the Green House Gas Reduction Plan and EMPOWER Maryland are aimed at reducing energy consumption so that over time, the size of the energy pie will be reduced making the 40% goal more achievable and the 20% goal less impactful. Additionally, local governments are enacting exciting legislation mandating more energy efficiency in new and redeveloped buildings as well as focusing a variety of initiatives to make their communities more sustainable.
The estimated potential for untapped wind and solar power within Maryland’s borders is equivalent to ten times the total electricity that Marylanders consume today. Costs of solar and wind are steadily going down. The cost of producing electricity with wind is already comparable to natural gas. Solar costs have gone down 80% since 2008 and 20% in 2012 alone. Setting a policy goal of 40% clean, renewable energy by 2025 will create incentives for nearly 5,000 megawatts of new clean energy in our region. Maryland has never shied away from taking the lead on forward-thinking policy. It is time, once again, to let the strength of your convictions shine and move us to Cleaner Power – Brighter Maryland.