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Md. House overrides governor's veto of renewable energy mandate boost

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Md. House overrides governor's veto of renewable energy mandate boost

The Maryland House of Delegates has overridden Gov. Larry Hogan's veto of H.B. 1106 to boost the state's renewable energy mandate to 25% by 2020.

The state House voted 88-51 on Jan. 31 to override the Republican governor's veto of the Clean Energy Jobs Act of 2016 that was passed by the state legislature in April 2016. The bill seeks to increase Maryland's renewable portfolio standard, or RPS, to 25% by 2020 from its current target of 20% by 2022 as well as boost its solar carve-out to 2.5% by 2020. Hogan in his May 2016 veto argued the bill would impose a $49 million to $196 million "tax increase" on Maryland ratepayers by 2020 to fund compliance with the higher RPS. The state Senate is expected to hold an override vote on the corresponding S.B. 921 version in coming days.

Lead bill sponsor Del. Bill Frick said in a news release that the House rejected "the disingenuous and inaccurate posturing of Hogan's politically motivated veto" and voted instead "for cleaner air, for good jobs, and for leadership in an emerging industry."

The bill's other leading sponsor, Sen. Brian Feldman, in the same news release juxtaposed President Donald Trump's "skepticism" about climate change with the Maryland legislation's "sound" economic and environmental policy. "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," he said.

Supporters such as the Maryland Climate Coalition believe the bill will encourage development of 1,300 MW of cleaner energy resources in Maryland and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than 2.7 million metric tons per year. According to the Sierra Club, the increased RPS is projected to result in 250 MW of new solar energy in Maryland and more than 1,000 MW of additional renewable energy sources within the region.

"The carbon pollution reduced by this bill is equivalent to removing 500,000 cars from the road," David Smedick, Maryland chapter representative for the Sierra Club, said in a statement. "With the Trump administration moving to silence even a mention of climate-change, states like Maryland will need to lead this fight."

A law judge at the Maryland Public Service Commission, however, on Jan. 24 rejected a request for a construction permit for a 59.5-MW wind energy project in the western part of the state, saying the adverse impacts on the local community outweighed any broader benefits.