February 9, 2017

A letter from Sen. Middleton – Renewable Energy Portfolio bill

Dear Neighbor,

Thank you for contacting me regarding the Renewable Energy Portfolio bill.  As you know, I voted to override Governor Hogan’s veto.  Please know that I gave careful consideration of the cost impact to our ratepayers.

The $100 million cost estimate was the most conservative amount that ratepayers collectively across the State would pay by 2020.   For a residential ratepayer, the additional cost is about $7 to $8 a year for an average user of electric, about the price of a pack of cigarettes.

That amount is likely to be a lot less as the cost of both solar and wind are dropping at an incredible rate.  For example, a Solar REC (renewable energy credit) has dropped from $336.49 in November 2008 to $84.08 in January 2017. A solar REC is a tradable, non-tangible energy commodity  that represents 1 megawatt-hour (MWH) of electricity generated from solar energy.  RECS provide a mechanism for the purchase of renewable energy that is added to and pulled from our regional electric grid.  Between January 2016 and January 2017, solar RECS have declined about $67.  The same is true for wind RECS which are becoming very competitive with energy generated from natural gas.

Our Governor is correct in pointing out the potential costs of the RPS legislation.  However, it would have been helpful had he also pointed out factual benefits.  His last two budgets have provided tens of millions of dollars for Northrop Grumman and Marriott Corporation assistance (with which I concur).  The subsidy will help keep jobs here in Maryland.

I strongly support the RPS legislation because I am certain the short term and long term benefits outweigh the costs.  Here are some of the benefits:

  • Unlike coal, natural gas, and other fossil fuels, wind and solar sources produce no CO2 emissions and, therefore, assists in addressing global warming.
  • Sustains and creates an additional 1,000 new high paying jobs per year in providing renewable energy.
  • Creates a stronger energy infrastructure worth $6.4 billion in net economic output and $42 billion in wages.
  • Improves health outcomes because of cleaner air.
  • Results in cost suppression of non-renewable energy sources as the cost of renewable energy sources drops. Since the lowest cost sources are used in the regional electric grid as a way to keep overall electric costs more affordable.

Just as taxpayer subsidies to our corporations keep jobs, our investment in renewable energy not only keeps jobs, but creates many new high paying jobs.  This effort will certainly help to offset the negative impact of President Trump’s environmental policies.

Very truly yours,
Thomas McLain Middleton
State Senator