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Rockville – Per capita solar power capacity grew 50 percent in Maryland last year, according to a new report by Environment Maryland Research & Policy Center. The growth brings Maryland to 12th in the country for total solar power capacity per person.
Lighting the Way III: The Top States that Helped Drive America’s Solar Energy Boom in 2014 shows that while every state in the country gets enough sun to meet its energy needs many times over, the states that ranked the highest for solar per capita were those with policies that encourage increasing numbers of homeowners, businesses, communities and utilities to “go solar.”
“We may not be as sunny as Florida or Texas,” said David Beavers, Campaign Organizer with Environment Maryland, “but with continued commitment to smart clean energy policies, Maryland can lead the way on solar.”
“Public policy makes a huge difference in driving the solar revolution. Our state has strong policies and our county has strong policies and those policies are paying big dividends," said Councilmember Roger Berliner, chair of the Montgomery County Council Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy and Environment Committee, and sponsor of dozens of environmental initiatives.
State policies -- like Maryland’s community shared solar pilot program – have combined with local initiatives -- like Montgomery County’s first-of-its-kind county Green Bank, its commitment to buying 100% renewable power for its own facilities, and its additional commitment to installing solar on 14 county facilities with another dozen under consideration -- to create a marketplace in which solar energy can thrive.
“Montgomery County is taking significant steps to help businesses and individuals embrace solar and energy efficiency. We are moving forward on Commercial PACE, we are streamlining the permitting process for home solar installation, and our Green Bank will be a model for how local governments can take the lead in encouraging innovative green financing,” added Councilmember Berliner.
“Montgomery County is committed to implementing sustainability practices in new and existing buildings. Clean energy solutions such as solar help us achieve climate protection goals, lower the cost of energy, and contribute to the creation of new jobs. This commitment to clean energy is clearly demonstrated by a current project to install photovoltaic systems generating at least six megawatts or enough electricity to power 550 homes. This project coincides with a recent White House initiative promoting the installation of solar energy,” said David Dise, Director of Montgomery County’s Department of General Services, the county’s lead agency on its initiatives to green its operations.
Solar power tripled in the last three years nationwide, and is adding jobs much faster than the overall economy. More than 3,000 people work in the solar industry in Maryland as of last year.
“A Maryland electricity network that's distributed and based on renewable sources like solar would be highly reliable, efficient, and make a significant difference in countering climate change,” said John McCann, President of Chevy Chase-based Legatus6. “At Legatus6, we've developed solar as our core business, because I believe solar power is not just a wonderful opportunity for my small business, but a huge step forward for our environment, our economy, and our national security.”
The Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan, which sets state-by-state limits on carbon pollution from coal and gas power plants and was finalized last month, provides critical incentives for Maryland to accelerate its development of solar energy. According to Environment Maryland research, tapping into Maryland’s potential for solar power could alone meet the pollution reduction targets required by the plan.
“We must chart a course to 100 percent clean energy to slow global warming,” said Beavers. “The state’s recent growth in solar power is great news, but it only scratches the surface of what’s possible and what’s necessary to ensure a healthier, safer climate.”
Environment Maryland Research & Policy Center is a statewide advocacy organization bringing people together for a cleaner, greener, healthier future. www.environmentmarylandcenter.org