For what it’s worth, every one of Baltimore’s council members supports significantly boosting Maryland’s reliance on renewable energy in the next 13 years.
At Monday night’s city council meeting, all 16 members voted to approve a resolution to back sourcing 50 percent of Maryland’s power from renewable sources by 2030, and to invest in clean energy workforce training programs in high-poverty areas. The resolution also supports boosting financing for minority- and woman-owned businesses to adopt clean energy technology, and halting incentives for trash-burning, which is actually considered a clean energy technology under the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard, despite its polluting effects.
“We need to up the ante on renewable energy and the new jobs created,” said Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke, a resolution co-sponsor. “Pollute less and hire more.”
As Laurel noted in her column last week, Maryland’s air pollution tends to hit the poorest neighborhoods the hardest, with many of those located right here in Charm City. Faith leaders, green advocates and social justice groups have teamed up to push for equitable, green state policies that will ideally improve our air quality, reduce our contribution to climate change and bolster low-income communities with more jobs — many of them in solar — in the process.
The Renewable Portfolio Standard is a work order that outlines the proportion of sold electricity that utilities are required to generate from renewable technologies. Maryland currently has a goal set in stone to create 25 percent of power in the RPS from renewables by 2020. (Gov. Larry Hogan vetoed a bill adopted that goal in 2016, but during this past session lawmakers overrode him, allowing the change to take effect.) The policy change that groups – and now, the Baltimore City Council – back now seeks to ambitiously increase that commitment to 50 percent by 2030.
Maryland officials have committed more to renewable energy in several other recent moves, including by approving an offshore wind farm near Ocean City this year, and by codifying a community-based solar electricity-generation pilot program into law in 2015.
The City Council’s resolution stipulated that its members notify the governor, General Assembly leaders and the mayor’s office, among others, of their support for the 50 percent goal. They might seem a bit early if they reach out now, but Annapolis will likely be hearing a lot more about the push for that change as the 2018 legislative session approaches.