Van Hollen Backs Clean Energy Legislation in Annapolis

    U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) has put his weight behind clean energy legislation currently bottled up in the House of Delegates.

    In a letter sent Monday to House Economic Matters Chair Dereck E. Davis (D-Prince George’s), Van Hollen endorses the Clean Energy Jobs Act, which would boost Maryland’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) to 50 percent, requiring electric utilities in the state to get half of their energy supply from renewable sources by 2030.

    Specifically, Van Hollen warns that the state would be squandering an opportunity to take full advantage of federal tax credits for renewable energy if the legislation does not pass this year.

    The federal Investment Tax Credit covers 30 percent of all solar energy projects costs, but the credit is declining to 26 percent in 2020, 22 percent in 2021 and then is reduced to zero for residential solar users in 2022. Van Hollen asserts that in Maryland alone, the credit has provided $840 million in tax relief for businesses and homeowners since it was implemented.

    Van Hollen notes a recent report from the Solar Foundation, which ranked Maryland 47th in solar growth in 2018, losing a net 800 industry jobs.

    “By increasing the state’s RPS now and jumpstarting investment in clean energy, we can ensure we do not leave tax dollars on the table,” Van Hollen writes. “The Maryland Solar Energy Industries Association calculated the difference between passing the Clean Energy Jobs Act this year vs. next year is approximately $247,000,000 in lost tax revenue.”

    The Clean Energy Jobs Act passed the Senate last week by a 33-13 vote, but its posture in the House is complicated. Two weeks ago, the Economic Matters Committee failed to pass a motion to kill the bill, and the panel has sat on its version of the legislation ever since. Davis, the committee chairman, said the panel would consider the Senate version when it moved to the lower chamber.

    Since then, the Senate version of the bill, sponsored by Sen. Brian J. Feldman (D-Montgomery), has been referred to the House Rules Committee but has not progressed further.

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    Josh Kurtz
    Co-founder and Editor Josh Kurtz is the leading chronicler of Maryland politics and government. He began covering the State House in 1995 for The Gazette newspapers, and has been writing about state and local politics ever since. He later became an editor at Roll Call, the Capitol Hill newspaper, and spent eight years at E&E News, an online subscription-only publisher of news websites covering energy and environmental issues. For seven of those years, he led a staff of 20 reporters at E&E Daily, which covers energy and environmental policy on Capitol Hill and in national politics. For 6 1/2 years he wrote a weekly column on state politics for Center Maryland and has written for several other Maryland publications as well. Kurtz has given speeches and appeared on TV and radio shows about Maryland politics through the years.