Maryland’s Senate reiterated its support Thursday for raising the state’s renewable energy goals, overriding Gov. Larry Hogan’s veto of a measure that had passed last year by wide margins.
By a vote of 32 to 13, senators revived a bill committing Maryland to get 25 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2020, with at least 2.5 percent of it from solar power. That’s an increase over the current goal of 20 percent renewable by 2022, with 2 percent from solar.
The House passed the same measure 88-51 on Tuesday. A three-fifths majority of each chamber was needed to make it law over the governor’s objections.
Hogan last year vetoed the legislation, dubbed the Clean Energy Jobs Act, saying that although its goals were laudable he could not go along with asking the state’s electricity customers to pay more for renewable power. He appealed to lawmakers this year to sustain his veto and join him in trying other ways to boost renewable energy that didn’t require ratepayers to subsidize them.
The law compels electricity suppliers to increase the amount of renewable power they provide, or pay penalties for falling short.
Environmentalists and renewable-energy advocates pressed the legislature to override the veto, saying the cost to ratepayers is small, and the state’s “renewable portfolio standard” is the most effective way to get more wind, solar and other non-fossil projects built. Supporters argued that setting a higher goal will create incentives for developing roughly 1,300 megawatts of new clean energy capacity, which would help fight climate change and make the air healthier to breathe while also supporting more than 1,000 jobs in a growing industry.
“The Senate voted for the Clean Energy Jobs Act because it is sound economic and environmental policy,” said Sen. Brian Feldman, a Montgomery County Democrat who is lead sponsor of the bill passed Thursday. “Not only will this legislation create thousands of good-paying green jobs, it will put the State on the road to meeting our renewable energy goals — a vision shared by both Democrats and Republicans across Maryland.”
A spokeswoman for Hogan said lawmakers would have to answer to voters who “will now be forced to foot the bill for an unnecessary addition to a program that already exists and one that subsidizes out-of-state companies.” Some renewable energy credits used by suppliers of Maryland electricity to meet the law’s requirements are generated by projects outside of Maryland..