Business Leaders and Advocates Ask Lawmakers to Double Wind and Solar Power During 2015 Maryland General Assembly; Poll released shows strong voter support for action

 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Thursday, January 8, 2015

CONTACT:

Kelly Trout, 240-396-2022, kelly@chesapeakeclimate.org

Tommy Landers, 301-442-0134, tommy@chesapeakeclimate.org

 Business Leaders and Advocates Ask Lawmakers to Double Wind and Solar Power During 2015 Maryland General Assembly

Poll released shows strong voter support for action

 ANNAPOLIS—Business leaders and advocates today called on Maryland lawmakers to pass legislation to double the state’s use of clean electricity like wind and solar power during the 2015 Maryland General Assembly. During a morning tele-press conference, the leaders emphasized that such a policy would deliver huge jobs and economic gains for Maryland, in addition to dramatically reducing costly global warming pollution. According to polling data also released during the call, over two-thirds of Maryland voters back the proposal, which would require that 40% of the state’s electricity come from renewable sources by 2025.

“There are few sectors in Maryland’s economy that are more promising than the clean energy sector in terms of jobs and growth,” said Maryland Senator Brian Feldman (D-Montgomery), a chief sponsor of the Maryland Clean Energy Advancement Act of 2015. “Solar is bigger than the crab industry now in this state. This legislation helps expand that prosperity with a sound policy that creates investment certainty for businesses and consumers.”

Analysis shows that doubling Maryland’s existing clean energy mandate, called the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS), would support nearly 2,000 new jobs per year in Maryland’s solar industry and spur over 20,000 new jobs in the regional wind-power supply chain. Business experts emphasized that, by setting a region-leading 40% clean electricity standard, state lawmakers would establish Maryland as a regional hub for clean energy investment and spur a resurgence in manufacturing and construction jobs.

“Thanks to forward-looking clean energy policies like this, renewable energy is moving into the mainstream for business,” said Stu Dalheim, Vice President at Calvert Investments, a nationally prominent firm based in Maryland. “A majority of the country’s largest companies have clean energy targets and investors are ready for public policies that push further in creating sustainable, home-grown energy jobs that are good for the climate. It just makes sense. This is a good bill for Maryland and the country.”

The polling released today, conducted by the non-partisan, independent firm OpinionWorks, confirmed that broad majorities of Maryland voters back the policy:

  • More than two-thirds of Maryland voters—or 69 percent—support raising the state’s clean electricity standard to 40% by 2025, understanding that it would add less than $2 per month to the average home electricity bill.
  • By two-to-one, voters are more likely to support an elected official during the next election who votes to double Maryland’s clean energy requirement.
  • Further, 70 percent of those polled believe that reliance on fossil fuels is harmful to people’s health.

 

The Maryland Clean Energy Advancement Act expands a current state law called the Renewable Portfolio Standard, or RPS, which was originally signed in 2004 by Republican Governor Robert Ehrlich. The RPS requires that Maryland electricity suppliers purchase an increasing percentage each year of wind, solar and other forms of renewable energy. The new legislation would gradually accelerate the yearly trajectory of Maryland’s standard to 40% clean electricity by the year 2025. (The current law is 20% by 2022). The proposed expansion bill comes on the heels of California’s announcement Monday that it will set a 50-percent clean power target.

“States with the best renewable energy standards are the states that create the most clean energy jobs,” said Bob Keefe, Executive Director of Environmental Entrepreneurs, a national nonpartisan business group that advocates for smart policies that are good for both the environment and the economy. “These are jobs that pay better than average and can’t be off-shored and are helping both our economy and our environment. Maryland is rife with opportunities for more renewable energy, and there’s no reason places like Massachusetts and New Jersey and North Carolina should be outpacing Maryland in solar and other areas.”

Walt Wunder, president of Aeronautica Windpower, LLC, said: “As an American-owned wind turbine manufacturer with products installed in Maryland, Aeronautica Windpower applauds Maryland’s efforts to expand its use of renewable energy from the wind and sun. We have watched as other states and countries which embrace renewables improve their economy by increasing employment and stabilizing the cost of electricity. Maryland has the renewable resources to be a national leader in this respect, and the 40 percent standard is the way to get there.”

Tommy Landers, Maryland Policy Director for the Chesapeake Climate Action Network and a representative of the Maryland Climate Coalition, said: “We can and must pass legislation in 2015 to double wind and solar power for Maryland.  As Maryland moves forward with clean energy, we will move forward on jobs, forward on health, and forward on climate action. That’s why this bill is a top priority of a large and growing coalition of business leaders, environmentalists, faith leaders, public health groups, labor unions, and social justice advocates.”

On January 14, the first day of the Maryland General Assembly session, activists will join Maryland climate, business, labor, and social justice leaders for a 10:30 a.m. rally on Lawyer’s Mall calling for action in 2015 to double Maryland’s clean electricity standard.

View a summary of the OpinionWorks polling released today and commissioned by the Maryland Climate Coalition:

http://marylandclimatecoalition.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/OpinionWorks-Climate-Poll-Fact-Sheet-1-8-15.pdf

 

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