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Md. legislature passes bill to boost renewable energy consumed within state

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Md. legislature passes bill to boost renewable energy consumed within state

Marylandlegislation seeking to expand the state's renewable portfolio standard by mandating25% of Maryland's electricity come from renewable energy sources by 2020 has passedboth legislative houses. However, state lawmakers still have to sort out differencesbetween two approved versions before the bill heads to the desk of Republican Gov.Larry Hogan for consideration.

The MarylandSenate voted 31-14 on April 6 to approve the Clean Energy Jobs Act, or , which aims to increaserenewable energy consumption in the state from Maryland's current renewable portfoliostandard (RPS) mandate of 20% by 2022. The lower house passed the House version,H.B. 1106, in a 92-43 vote on March21.

Accordingto the Sierra Club, an environmental advocacy group supporting the legislation,the increase in the state's renewable portfolio standard is projected to resultin additional 250 MW of solar energy in the state and over 1,000 MW of additionalrenewable energy in the region.

"Thefact of the matter is that Maryland relies too much on old, dirty energy, and astronger RPS will help us transition away from those fuels faster and create jobs,"said David Smedick, an anti-coal activist with the Sierra Club in a . Smedick said committing thestate to 25% renewables by 2020 "puts good people to work and fights back againstclimate disruption by displacing energy produced from fossil fuels."

Passageof the Clean Energy Jobs Act comes a day after Gov. Hogan signed into law the Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Act,which requires Maryland to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions 40% below 2006 levelsby 2030. This legislation passed the House in a 101-37 vote and the Senate 38-8.

"2016is proving to be a landmark year for clean energy progress in Maryland," saidDelegate Bill Frick, a Democrat and leading sponsor of H.B. 1106 in a . "Maryland hasa real opportunity to harness clean energy as a new economic engine for our state."

Not everyoneis in favor of the government pushing green policies as evident by the large numberof Republican votes against the Clean Energy Jobs Act and the Greenhouse Gas EmissionsReduction Act. "This bill [S.B. 921 / H.B. 1106] both accelerates and alsoincreases this goal by 2020 and it does so at a cost of $49 million to $196 millionannual or $9 to $36 dollars annually per rate payer," said Joe Cluster, statespokesman of the Republican Party. "We have already made a strong commitmentto renewable energy and there is no reason to put more burden on the ratepayer."