As a legislator that represents miles of waterfront, the protection and preservation of our environment is one of my priorities. I am proud of my many years of high ratings from organizations such as the Maryland League of Conservation Voters in recognition of these efforts.
This year, there are several proposals that will continue moving Maryland down the right road for the environment. Many of these bills have the added benefit of helping our economy grow.
Perhaps the most discussed to date is the governor’s proposal to invest in offshore wind energy. The proposed 600 megawatt wind project would generate enough energy to power 95 percent of the homes of the Eastern Shore, creating 2,000 construction and 400 operational jobs in the process.
I am committed to ensure that, to the extent possible, our local industries have the opportunity to participate in this job growth, and that any savings that occur as a result of investment in new power generation is shared by all ratepayers.
Other proposals include moving forward on electric vehicles, net energy metering and solar hot water.
We are leading the way in Maryland with the rollout of electric vehicles and the supporting infrastructure. Electric vehicles reduce the use of petroleum and reduce the cost of fuel, improve air quality and the health of the bay, and increase our energy independence.
With the Nissan Leaf and Chevy Volt hitting the market, Maryland is poised to expand upon our prior efforts in this area, which include adopting an excise tax exemption for electric cars, a major expansion of the White Marsh General Motors plan to build electric motors, and the installation of approximately 65 charging stations around the state. This year, the governor is asking the legislature to consider the following initiatives to continue the progress on this front.
First is the creation of an Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Council, which will help prepare the state for the rapid integration of electric vehicles into Maryland communities. Another proposal would have the Public Service Commission create a pilot program that permits utilities to offer homeowners and businesses the opportunity to recharge electric vehicles during off-peak hours (10 p.m. – 6 a.m.), when the electric grid has excess capacity and energy is cheaper.
Finally, the administration is proposing that the legislature adopt a tax credit program for electric vehicle charging equipment. Several other states have adopted similar councils, pilot programs and tax credit programs.
Net energy metering legislation will allow smaller renewable energy producers the opportunity to be fairly compensated for generating more energy than they use in a given calendar year, and allowing solar hot water installations to qualify for existing renewable energy credits will create even more green jobs, allowing a cost-effective way for residents to include renewable technologies into their homes and businesses.
This session and at all times, I remain committed to doing all I can to help create jobs today and to preserve our environment for the future.
“Green” investments such as these allow us the opportunity to do both.