Maryland’s solar industry has been a remarkable success story, creating more than 4,000 jobs and an estimated $1.5 billion in economic activity in the state since the first solar requirements were established in 2008.
In the last eight years, more than 30,000 solar systems have been installed in Maryland, most of them on homes and small businesses. Tens of thousands of Maryland homeowners have installed a solar energy system which helps the environment, lowers their energy bills and leads the way to a brighter future for everyone by reducing pollutants and associated health care costs and saving water resources.
This extraordinary accomplishment is primarily due to the establishment of a Solar Renewable Energy Credit (SREC) market as a result of the Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) requirements for electricity suppliers in Maryland to procure a specific and annually increasing percentage of solar electricity as a portion of their total sales. By providing a mechanism to value the environmental attributes of creating non-polluting energy from solar facilities, state policy also served to create a bridge for a nascent industry to become a significant job creator while developing a clean energy economic driver for the state.
But those gains are now at risk.
A combination of factors have led to very low SREC prices since early last year. 2016 Maryland SREC prices are currently in the $20 per SREC range, far below where they have traded in previous years. Unless the legislature acts, system owners will be unlikely to achieve reasonable payback periods, the industry will shrink and much of the progress increasing clean, locally-produced, distributed energy onto our grid over the last decade will be lost.
The next session of the legislature begins this week and if the legislature fails to act this year, it may be too late to prevent serious harm. Over the next several weeks and months, we are inviting concerned citizens to lend their voice in support of solar in Maryland by using the tools we have developed to communicate with their legislators to let them know that their constituents want, need and expect them to act to ensure that solar energy in Maryland continues to grow and expand, rather than contract. There are several steps that will be needed.
First the legislature must override Governor Hogan’s veto of the Clean Energy Jobs Act of 2016 which modestly increases the requirements on utilities to produce clean, renewable energy as part of the Renewable Portfolio Standards law. While overriding the veto will not be enough to provide sufficient support to SREC prices, it is a critical first step.
If you’d like to learn more about Maryland’s solar industry and the policies needed to maintain a healthy and growing industry, download our white paper Maryland Solar—An Industry at the Crossroads.
If you would like to join with us to let your legislators know that you support overriding the veto of the Clean Energy Jobs Act as the first step in making sure solar energy remains a valuable and practical option for individuals and small businesses in Maryland, you can use our Legislative Action Center contact tools to send an email to your state legislators.
U.S. Photovoltaics, Inc.
37 N. Market Street, Suite 200
Frederick, MD 21701