The U.S. renewable energy sector remains resilient despite 2018 tax policy setbacks. A growing workforce continues to make major contributions to clean energy efforts and declining wind and solar energy costs as well as recent advances in renewable technologies like battery storage are reinforcing a positive industry outlook. And at Arcadia, we remain committed to providing consumers in every U.S. state with access to clean energy. As part of our ongoing series on the future of clean energy across the country, we are spotlighting Maryland’s fast growing clean energy sector.
Energy Mix in Maryland
Known for its expansive waterways and coastlines along the Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic Ocean, Maryland ranks 41st out of 50 in terms of energy consumption per capita. Maryland is the seventh most densely populated state in America, with most of its population living away from the western mountains and low-lying plains, and largely concentrated between the suburbs of Baltimore and Washington, D.C.
The less populated mountains serve as the state’s most powerful wind energy source while solar energy powers a large part of the eastern two-thirds of the state. And while coal power has declined over the last 10 years, nuclear power and natural gas have naturally been on the incline.
It’s clear that Maryland has a rich mix of energy resources that power its residential, commercial, industrial, and transportation sectors of the economy. While most of the electricity that Maryland consumers use is generated by coal-fired systems, Maryland’s energy portfolio continues to diversity with an increasing use of natural gas and renewable energies. Ongoing efforts to amplify this diversification by leveraging carbon-reducing power sources is at the heart of Maryland’s renewable energy goals.
In December 2018, The New York Times reported the following breakdown of Maryland energy sources from the year 2001 to 2017:
Maryland’s clean energy industry
Initial requirements from the Clean Energy Jobs Act mandated a 25% renewable standard by 2020, but it has recently been reported that legislators are looking to increase these standards to 50% no later than 2030.
Consequently, customers would experience an increase in price from $7 to $11 per year to comply with the new renewable portfolio standard, according to Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative. However, according to The Climate Coalition, expanding Maryland’s standards is one way to make a significant contribution to increase clean energy jobs which already reached around 3.4 million in the U.S. according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics.
What’s next for clean energy in Maryland?
The 2019 Maryland Clean Energy Jobs Act, or “MCEJA” creates great potential for new clean energy jobs such as solar panel installers and wind turbine servicers, two of the fastest-growing occupations in the U.S. The Baltimore Sun reported that Maryland’s solar energy already employs more than 5,000 in-state workers at $18 or more per hour. Projections for even more clean energy jobs to help further the state’s renewable portfolio standard goals provide a hopeful outlook for both Maryland’s economy and the residents who live and work here.
As legislators and advocacy groups across the state work to educate and empower an active movement toward 100% clean energy in the near future, Maryland continues to be an active fixture in the national fight against climate change and its negative effects on our present and future.