Annapolis, MD — The 2016 Maryland legislative session has been a banner year for advancing policies to address climate change and expand clean energy use.  Today the Maryland General Assembly finalized the Clean Energy Jobs Act (SB 921/HB 1106), legislation to increase Maryland’s use of renewable energy sources like wind and solar to 25 percent by the year 2020, sending it to Governor Larry Hogan’s desk. 

“The legislation passed this session maintains Maryland’s position as a leader on climate and clean energy. These bills mean Marylanders will have cleaner air, and a stronger economy,” said Trisha Sheenan, of Moms Clean Air Force. “This is great news for Maryland families.”

Last week the Governor signed the landmark Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Act of 2016 into law.  The bill, SB 323/HB 610, renews the 2009 Maryland law that sets a goal to reduce climate-polluting greenhouse gas emissions statewide by 25 percent by 2020. The 2016 bill further extends the goal to a 40 percent reduction by 2030, requiring long-term cuts in pollution and positioning Maryland just behind California and New York for climate goals. The law is expected to help create and maintain tens of thousands of jobs and represents a balanced, science-based approach to reduce carbon pollution.

“We are grateful to the Maryland General Assembly and to Governor Hogan for their commitment to ensuring that Maryland is a leader on climate action with the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act, ” said Joelle Novey, of Interfaith Power & Light, which coordinated Maryland’s faith leaders and religious communities in advocating for the bill.  “The broad, bipartisan support for this climate protection measure shows that caring folks across our state are committed to working together on climate solutions that strengthen our economy and protect our neighbors’ health.”

The Clean Energy Jobs Act increases Maryland’s current renewable energy goal of 20 percent by 2022 to 25 percent by 2020.  The accelerated target ranks Maryland sixth nationally in terms of ramping up renewable energy use by 2020, right behind Vermont, California, Hawaii, New York, and Connecticut.

The increased goal is expected to result in approximately 1,300 new megawatts of new clean energy generated. The increase is projected to create over 1,000 new Maryland solar jobs per year during construction and approximately 4,600 direct jobs in the region from wind.

“This increase in Maryland’s renewable energy standard means more family-supporting jobs for Maryland,” said Joe Uehlein, of the Labor Network for Sustainability.

The Clean Energy Jobs Act also creates a working group among government agencies and clean energy stakeholders to examine the best funding opportunities to invest in job training in the clean energy industry, and to remove barriers for entry in this industry by minority- and women-owned businesses. In addition, it makes small minority- and women-owned businesses in this industry eligible to receive dedicated funding for market growth through the state’s “Strategic Energy Investment Fund.”