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Md. groups draft renewables bill to call for more solar, offshore wind

Q2: U.S. Solar and Wind Power by the Numbers

Essential Energy Insights - September 17, 2020

Essential Energy Insights September 2020

Rate case activity slips, COVID-19 proceedings remain at the forefront in August


Md. groups draft renewables bill to call for more solar, offshore wind

A Maryland bill to boost the state's renewable energy target to 50% by 2030 is expected to call for more solar and offshore wind, sources writing the bill's language say.

Earlier this year, the state legislature raised its target to 25% by 2020 after overriding a veto by Republican Gov. Larry Hogan. The new target specifies that 2.5% of electricity supply comes from solar sources by 2020.

Environmental groups are trying to push the solar target up to 14.5%. Brooke Harper, the Maryland and D.C. policy director for the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, and David Murray, executive director of the Maryland, D.C. and Virginia chapter of the Solar Energy Industries Association, confirmed in emails that the draft bill includes a 14.5% solar target for 2030.

The rest of the 50% target would be fulfilled by additional Tier 1 renewables, a category that includes a variety of resources including solar, wind, biomass and geothermal power, Harper said on Oct. 11. Chesapeake Climate Action Network is a member of the Maryland Climate Coalition, a stakeholder group which launched the "Forward 50" campaign in September to push for a 50% renewable portfolio standard bill.

The draft bill will exclude trash incineration from qualifying as renewable under the state's Tier 1 definition, which the Maryland Climate Coalition says "jeopardizes public health," according to its website. The state met 9% of its Tier 1 renewable requirement in 2015 with power generated from burning municipal waste, according to the state's latest RPS report released in January. About 52% of its Tier 1 renewable target in 2015 was met with a combination of black liquor, a paper industry waste product, and wind power. The remainder was met with a mix of hydropower, landfill gas, solar and wood, according to the report.

In addition, the draft language will look to add between 250 MW and 450 MW of offshore wind by 2030, Harper said. Under former Democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley, the state set a mandate to have offshore wind provide 2.5% of its power each year beginning in 2017, but that target has yet to be met. The state Public Service Commission on Sept. 19 held a technical conference to discuss how to implement its offshore wind target after awarding leases in May to two offshore wind developers. (PSC Case No. 9431)

Most of the 2.5% target is expected to be met with a 248-MW project known as the Ocean City Offshore Wind Project that offshore wind developer U.S. Wind Inc. aims to turn on by 2020. A smaller amount of the offshore wind carve-out would be met with power from a 120-MW wind farm proposed by Skipjack Offshore Wind Energy LLC, an affiliate of Deepwater Wind. The Skipjack Offshore Wind Project is expected to operate by November 2022, according to a May 11 release from the PSC.

As planned, U.S. Wind's project would have 62 turbines located about 12 to 15 nautical miles offshore Ocean City, Md., but would interconnect to the regional grid via a substation in southern Delaware. The Skipjack project would involve 15 turbines located about 17 to 21 miles offshore Ocean City, according to the PSC's release.

The legislature is set to return January 2018. In an Oct. 12 email, House Majority Leader Bill Frick confirmed he is still sponsoring the bill despite running for county executive in Montgomery County, located just north of Washington D.C.