Maryland boasts impressive solar energy achievements including policy favoring solar, installed capacity, and employment growth in the sector. Maryland is ranked 13th in the country with a total installed capacity of 242 MW with 73 MW installed in 2014 alone1. The Maryland solar job sector grew about 29% between 2013 and 2014 (compared to the total Maryland job growth of 0.7% during that same time) and is projected to grow an additional 25.9% in 20152. The overall growth of the solar industry in Maryland can be attributed to multiple legislative advancements that made the state an attractive option for solar companies.
Maryland passed a renewable energy portfolio standard in 2004 which mandated that 20% of the state’s electricity will be generated from renewable sources by 2022. In 2007, an aggressive solar carve-out was added stating that 2% of electricity must be derived from solar energy sources. Consequentially, this created the Maryland solar renewable energy credit market which so many businesses seek when considering solar energy. With the increasing number of solar installations in the state, SEIA successfully sought to amend the net metering regulations in 2011 which have since been given a policy grade of A according to The Solar Foundation2. The establishment of the solar carve-out as well as improved net metering regulations created a demand for trained workers, effectively growing the solar employment sector. In order to sustain this positive job growth, Governor O’Malley signed the Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard for Solar Energy and Solar Water Heating Systems (SB791/HB1187) into law. This bill accelerated the date at which the 2% solar carve-out was required to be met by electricity generators in the state from 2022 to 2020. The intent was to ensure the constant solar job growth that the state had been seeing year after year1.
MDV-SEIA worked with state legislators in 2015 to expand access to solar for those who could not utilize it including those with shaded roofs, those who do not own their residence, or other restraints. In February 2015, HB1087 and SB481 made Maryland the 11th state to allow community solar energy systems. Residents of Maryland are able to subscribe to these systems to receive a share of their energy from the solar energy system overseen by the Maryland Public Service Commission (MD PSC). Similar to residents with on-site solar energy systems who see offsets on their energy bill, virtual net metering ensures that subscribers receive offsets based on their share of the community solar energy system.
There are an increasing number of reasons solar companies are flocking to Maryland, mostly due to a trend of bills making solar energy an attractive option for residents and businesses in the state. The aggressive solar carve-out makes it necessary for electricity generators to utilize the state’s solar resources. There have been proposals this past year from legislators and advocates to increase the state RPS from 20% to 25% renewable energy by 2020. Discussions regarding an increase in the renewable energy goal are due to continue and if passed, the increase would create an even larger demand for solar energy in Maryland3. Finally, solar companies can now serve the residents who normally would not have access to solar energy because of financial and structural restraints. The market for solar in Maryland is growing at an increasing rate making the state an attractive option for solar companies.