Maryland Governor Larry Hogan Vetoes Expansion of Renewable Portfolio Standard
Late last week, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan vetoed SB 921/HB 1106. The legislation known as the “Clean Jobs Bill” would, among other things, increase the state’s renewable energy portfolio standard to 25 percent by 2020, an increase from the existing 20 percent by 2022 mandate.
Through a veto message, Hogan said increasing the existing renewable mandate would be tantamount to “a tax increase levied upon every single electricity ratepayer in Maryland.” Hogan made taxes a central component of his 2014 gubernatorial campaign and specifically pledged to roll back tax increases signed into law by his predecessor.
According to Hogan, such an increase in the state’s renewable mandate would cost residents between $49 and $196 million by 2020. This cost would come in addition to what Marylanders are already paying for renewable energy credits (RECs) that electric utilities have purchased over the years to satisfy the mandate. In 2014, the last year for which information is available, the price tag for these RECs totaled $104 million. This year, Maryland is slated to generate 15.9 percent of total electricity supply from renewables, largely through the use of RECs.
While opposing renewable portfolio standards (and, indeed, mandates across all industries), ALEC fully supports voluntary efforts to expand and advance renewable energy, so long as no technology or class of technologies is given an unfair competitive advantage over others. Additionally, consumers who voluntarily elect to use renewables should pay for all associated expenses, including those related to being connected to the electric power grid.
Since a supermajority of legislators in both the Maryland Senate and House of Representatives voted in favor of the bill, it is possible (and perhaps even likely) that they will try to override Hogan’s veto when the legislature reconvenes in early 2017. Nevertheless, Governor Hogan should be congratulated for his ongoing efforts to protect the hardworking taxpayers of Maryland.