Maryland Governor vetoes renewable energy mandate increase

Last Friday, the Governor of the U.S. state of Maryland vetoed a bill which would have modestly increased the state’s renewable portfolio standard (RPS) policy. SB0921/HB1106 would have required that utilities procure 25% of their electricity from renewable energy sources by 2020, an increase from the current 20% by 2022.

Maryland’s existing RPS is around mid-level in terms of ambition compared to other policies nationally, and the increase would put it closer to the level of leading states such as California. However, California and other leading states are planning well past 2020, and the top four state RPS policies set mandates for 2030-2045.

In his veto statement, Governor Hogan inaccurately described the Clean Energy Jobs bill as a “tax”, estimating that it would cost electricity consumers $49-$196 million by 2020. The governor further notes that renewable energy credit (REC) compliance costs totaled $104 million in 2014.

However, as Maryland has two million households, this means that even if residential customers alone were shouldering this burden, 2014 REC costs would come out to around $4 per month on their electricity bills. Furthermore even if the governor’s estimates were accurate, the RPS increase would translate to and additional $0.50-$2 per residential electricity customer per month.

The Clean Energy Jobs bill passed both the Maryland House and Maryland Senate with strong majorities, and in its analysis of the veto SRECTrade states that an override of this veto is a possibility.

In 2016 so far Maryland has secured 13.4% of its electricity from non-hydro renewable energy, including 0.7% from solar PV. Under existing legislation Maryland utilities will need to increase this to 2% of their annual electricity from solar PV as part of the 22% renewable energy mandate.