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Bill would set Md.’s renewable energy goal to 100 percent by 2040

(ThinkStock)

(ThinkStock)

Touting supermajority support, an environmental group said it is close to passage of a state law increasing the amount of electricity generated by wind and solar sources.

Maryland has not yet reached a 25 percent renewable energy goal. The new initiative, if passed, would seek to double that goal in a decade and ultimately push Maryland to a 100 percent renewable energy goal soon after.

“We’re very confident that this bill has a very good shot at becoming law and getting to the governor’s desk,” said Mike Tidwell, director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network.

The proposed legislation for 2019 calls for the state to increase the percentage of electricity generated by renewable sources from 25 percent to 50 percent by 2030. If passed, the bill would also require lawmakers to develop a plan to reach 100 percent renewable electricity generation by 2040.

The bill also removes energy generated from trash incineration from the definition of renewable energy sources and ends the subsidies for those facilities.

Supporters say the bill, if it becomes law, would create “thousands of jobs” in renewable energy generation.

“The economic arguments are really compelling,” said Sen. Brian Feldman, a Montgomery County Democrat and incoming vice chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. “They’re high-paying jobs again in an industry that is on the upswing, and this bill captures a lot of that.”

Feldman is the lead sponsor of the Senate version of the bill that will be introduced when the General Assembly convenes in January.

Similar legislation, which has been a priority for environmentalists, did not pass last session. This year, advocates say they have 30 members of the Senate — a veto-proof majority — and 82 members of the House who have signed on in support. The number of delegates supporting it is three shy of a veto-proof majority, but Democrats picked up more than a half-dozen seats in the 2018 election.

Tidwell and others also hold out hope that Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican who begins his second term in January, will be supportive of the initiative based on a Washington Post opinion piece Tuesday that he co-authored with Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam.

“Governor Hogan says states need to lead the way on climate change, and I completely agree,” said Feldman. “I look forward to working with him in the General Assembly to pass the Clean Energy Jobs Act as soon as possible. It’s never been more important.”

In the column, the governors criticized President Donald Trump’s plans to rescind environmental laws meant to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and combat global warming.

“The urgency to move quickly can’t be any clearer,” said Feldman.

Tidwell noted that Hogan has not yet signaled his intentions for the bill.

A spokeswoman for the governor was not immediately available for comment.

In 2017, Hogan vetoed a bill that called for an increase in the generation of electricity in Maryland from 20 to 25 percent by 2020. Hogan called the bill a $100 million tax on ratepayers and dubbed it “the sunshine tax.”

The House and Senate overrode that veto.


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