Maryland “Passes” Clean Energy Jobs Act

The Clean Energy Jobs Act passes in Maryland; deemed not strong enough by Governor or environmentalists.

In an interesting development in Maryland, SB516 passed through inaction. Dubbed the Clean Energy Jobs Act, it will double the state’s renewable electricity requirement from 25% by 2020 to 50% by 2030.

While the legislature passed the bill in early April, Governor Hogan elected to neither sign it nor veto it. In Maryland, such inaction after 30 days means that a bill becomes law.

The reason for the lack of a signature is nuanced. First, the Governor wasn’t opposed to the overall concept, despite his veto of a similar bill in 2016 (which was overridden by the legislature in 2017). The
Governor went on the record stating that he didn’t like this specific bill. “Despite its name, this bill is not clean enough, nor smart enough, nor does it create the intended jobs within Maryland,” he wrote in an open letter to State Senate President Thomas V. Miller. “Instead, it is a rushed and deeply flawed proposal, in need of significant improvements.”

Hogan prefers a stronger requirement of 100% clean electricity by 2040. However, he also wants to incorporate nuclear power as a clean generation source, rather than limiting the options to only
renewable sources. That idea is anticipated to appear before the legislature in 2020.

Hogan is not the only one criticizing the bill. Environmentalists are upset that SB516 subsidizes trash incineration and black liquor as a renewable source of power. (Black liquor is a byproduct of the paper-making process that would be waste if it were not used as fuel.)

Conservatives are displeased that the bill would likely add $1.50 per month to the average customer’s bill, due to the requirement that utilities purchase renewable energy credits.

Despite the criticisms, the bill and Hogan’s larger goal also has a broad range of supporters. “This is the strongest bill ever passed in Maryland to fight global warming and now stands as a national example,” said Mike Tidwell, director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network. “As the nation’s largest producer of emissions-free
energy, Exelon stands with the overwhelming majority of our customers who want cleaner air and affordable, reliable energy, and we applaud Governor Hogan for embracing these principles by establishing a goal to achieve 100% clean energy in Maryland by 2040,” said Paul Adams, an Exelon spokesman.