Solar Regulations in Maryland: Key Policies and Recent Updates
Table of Contents
Solar energy has been making significant strides in Maryland as the state aims to establish itself as a leader in renewable energy. Maryland has successfully quadrupled its solar energy capacity from 258 to 1,000 megawatts. This remarkable growth showcases the efficiency and effectiveness of the state’s policies and programs in encouraging the adoption of solar power among its residents, businesses, and communities.
Maryland has implemented various regulations and initiatives to bolster solar energy adoption to achieve its renewable energy goals, such as the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS). Under the RPS, at least 14.5% of electricity sold in Maryland in 2028 and beyond must come from solar resources. The state’s commitment to solar energy has created a conducive environment for residential and commercial entities to invest in and benefit from energy generated from solar power systems.
As the state continues to advance its solar energy agenda, being well-informed about the regulations and benefits of solar power in Maryland is essential for homeowners and businesses considering this renewable energy option. Throughout this article, we will delve into the intricacies of Maryland’s solar regulations, shed light on their opportunities, and discuss what this means for the state’s energy future.
Maryland’s Solar Energy Regulations Overview
Public Service Commission Role
The Public Service Commission (PSC) plays a significant role in overseeing Maryland’s solar energy regulations. They approve solar projects and ensure they comply with state laws and requirements. The PSC works in conjunction with the Governor and General Assembly on matters relating to energy policy and regulations.
Renewable Portfolio Standard
Maryland has a Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) that requires a certain percentage of electricity sold in the state to come from renewable energy sources, such as solar power. According to the RPS, at least 14.5% of the electricity sold in Maryland by 2028 must come from solar resources. This demonstrates Maryland’s commitment to increasing the use of clean, renewable energy as part of its statewide energy strategy.
Community Solar Pilot Program
In addition to promoting solar energy through the RPS, Maryland has also implemented a Community Solar Pilot Program to make solar power more accessible to residents. This program allows utility customers who rent their homes or cannot purchase or lease rooftop solar panels to benefit from solar energy through a subscription arrangement with a community solar project. Community solar is more readily available to tenants and low- to moderate-income two-income households, broadening access to clean energy for a broader range of Maryland residents.
Incentives and Credits for Solar Investment
Net Energy Metering Policies
Maryland has implemented net energy metering policies that allow homeowners and businesses to receive credits from electric utilities on their electricity bills for the excess solar energy their systems produce. This policy helps boost overall savings for those who invest in solar panels. Credits can be carried over monthly, but at the end of the annual billing cycle, any remaining credit is granted to the utility company without compensation.
Tax Credits and Rebates
Many tax credits and rebates are available to Maryland residents who invest in solar energy systems. The federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC) program offers a 30% tax credit on the total cost of installed solar panels, reducing the overall upfront cost.
Additionally, Maryland offers a Residential Clean Energy Grant Program, providing a $1,000 rebate to homeowners who install solar energy systems. To qualify for this rebate, your system must:
- Be smaller than 20 kilowatts (kW)
- Be located at your primary residence.
- Be installed by a certified NABCEP professional.
SREC Market and Solar Credits
Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SRECs) are essential to Maryland’s solar energy market. For every megawatt-hour (MWh) of solar electricity generated, a solar energy system owner earns one SREC. These credits can then be sold on the SREC market, providing an additional financial incentive for solar investment.
Maryland’s Renewable Portfolio Standard requires electricity suppliers to generate a specific percentage of their electricity from solar energy, driving demand for SRECs. This market helps ensure continuous investment in solar energy throughout the state. It encourages the growth of this renewable energy source.
Maryland offers a range of incentives, grants, credits, and net metering policies that encourage investment in solar panels and drive demand for renewable energy. These policies enable homeowners and businesses to reduce their energy costs, contribute to a cleaner environment, and improve the overall adoption of solar power within the state.
Siting and Land Use for Solar Projects
Zoning and Land Use Regulations
In Maryland law, local government authorities primarily determine solar project zoning and land use regulations. However, utility-scale solar projects are subject to state-level oversight. The state encourages the development of renewable energy projects on Brownfield sites to minimize the impact on farmland and other valuable resources. Rooftop solar projects are subject to a different level of scrutiny than utility-scale projects, as they have a smaller footprint and lower land-use impact.
Numerous environmental factors must be considered during the siting process for solar projects. One of the main concerns is the potential impact on forests, critical areas, and buffer zones. The Maryland Department of Natural Resources provides guidance on regulations related to these areas. Local governments should ensure that solar projects comply with applicable zoning and environmental laws to minimize their impact on these sensitive resources.
Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN)
For utility-scale solar projects in Maryland, a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN) must be obtained from the Maryland Public Service Commission (PSC). This certification process helps ensure that new energy generation projects, including solar facilities, serve the public interest and adhere to environmental and land use regulations. Local governments are involved in this process, as they may provide input on zoning and land use considerations related to a proposed solar project before the CPCN is granted.
Overall, the siting and land use regulations for solar projects in Maryland aim to balance the need for renewable energy development with the protection of valuable land resources and environmental considerations.
Policy and Legislative Framework
Current Legislative Measures
Maryland has enacted numerous laws and regulations to promote solar energy, with the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) being a significant policy. This policy aims to achieve 50% renewable energy by 2030, setting specific targets for solar energy and mandating a percentage of electricity generated from renewable sources. The state also introduced the Clean and Renewable Energy Standard (CARES) in 2019, which sets Maryland on a path to achieve 100% clean electricity by 2040 with zero carbon emissions. This commitment has resulted in a notable increase in the state’s solar energy capacity.
Task Force and Special Programs
The Maryland Energy Administration (MEA) and the Maryland Public Service Commission (MPSC) are vital in overseeing and implementing solar regulations under the legislative framework. These organizations collaborate to ensure compliance with renewable energy goals and net metering guidelines. The state government also approves community solar programs, such as the Community Solar Energy Generating Systems Program, encouraging businesses and residents to participate in various community solar projects for energy generation and sharing.
Future Directions and Targets
Maryland’s commitment to clean and renewable energy offers opportunities for businesses and communities to embrace eco-friendly energy practices. Some of the state’s targets include:
- Increase renewable energy generation: Achieve 50% renewable energy by 2030, with 14.5% of electricity from solar by 2028, according to the RPS.
- Clean electricity transition: Attain 100% clean electricity by 2040 with zero carbon emissions, per the Clean and Renewable Energy Standard (CARES).
- Expanding solar capacity: Quadruple installed solar energy capacity, as reported by the MEA.
Maryland’s policy, legislative framework, and renewable energy targets affirm the state’s dedication to promoting clean energy jobs and sustainable power solutions. The state is paving a progressive path toward a greener future by encouraging businesses and residents to participate in solar initiatives.