Maryland General Assembly Overrides Governor Hogan’s Veto, Expands Renewable Portfolio Standard

As much of the nation’s attention remains fixated on the opening weeks of the Trump presidency, state legislatures around the country continue their work writing, debating and implementing policy, some good and some bad. Last week, the Maryland General Assembly offered an example of bad policy being made worse.

On Tuesday, the Maryland House of Representatives voted by an 88-51 margin to override Governor Larry Hogan’s veto of a bill that increases the state’s renewable portfolio standard from 20 percent to 25 percent by 2022. Two days later, the Senate did the same by a 32-13 vote. The measure now goes into immediate effect.

Governor Hogan opposed expansion of the mandate claiming it would needlessly drive up electricity costs in the state, hurting ratepayers and taxpayers. According to Hogan, such an increase will cost residents between $49 and $196 million by 2020. These cost increases would come in addition to what Marylanders are already paying for renewable energy credits (RECs) that electric utilities have purchased over the years to satisfy the mandate. In 2014, the price tag for these RECs totaled $104 million. This number will likely only rise as utilities’ reliance on RECs to satisfy the renewable mandate also increases.

ALEC member and Senator Michael Hough spoke about the effects the increased mandate—what he calls a “sunshine tax”—will benefit largely out-of-state corporations at the expense of regular Maryland residents.

While opposing renewable portfolio standards (and, indeed, mandates across all industries), ALEC fully supports voluntary efforts to expand and advance renewable energy, so long as no technology or class of technologies is given an unfair competitive advantage over others. Additionally, consumers who voluntarily elect to use renewables should pay for all associated expenses, including those related to being connected to the electric power grid.

In Depth: Energy

It is difficult – and perhaps even impossible – to overstate the relationship between readily available access to safe, affordable and reliable energy and individual prosperity and economic wellbeing. This is because energy is an input to virtually everything we produce, consume and enjoy in society. Think for a minute…

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