Commentary: Maryland’s clean energy industry has made great strides
September 27, 2018

 

National Clean Energy Week, happening now, provides a good opportunity to shine a light on our state’s significant achievements. The growth of Maryland’s clean energy sector is creating well-paying job opportunities, increasing the resiliency of our grid and facilitating rate stability – and improving our air quality, which benefits human and environmental health.

A look at recent data indicates that implementing clean energy policies over the past few decades, combined with public and private investments to adopt clean energy products, services and technologies, are benefiting Marylanders in many ways.

 

Providing jobs 

First, the energy economy is providing jobs. Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics show that between 2013 and 2017, total employment in this sector increased by 10,961 jobs. That led to an increase in overall annual earnings of all workers in the energy sector from $8.067 billion to approximately $10.418 billion, with weekly earnings seeing a similar exponential increase.

The U.S. Department of Energy “2017 U. S. Energy and Employment Report” identified more than 26,000 jobs benefitting Marylanders related to electric power generation, transmission, distribution and storage. According to the report, Maryland has more than 67,000 jobs in the energy efficiency sector; this includes construction, HVAC, lighting, insulation and advanced materials. More than 26,000 more Maryland jobs are a result of developments in electric vehicles and other non-fossil fuel driven transportation technologies.

 

Improving the grid 

We’re also improving our electricity grid. When the power is out, our economy stalls, our communities are less safe and we are less comfortable in our homes or workplace. Consumers benefit from an efficient, reliable and secure power grid that uses innovative energy technologies. Distributed energy resources and storage options can promote resiliency and minimize losses through rapid disaster response.

Maryland ranks 4th in the nation for grid modernization, according to The GridWise Alliance, an industry association that examines state by state efforts to support modernization of the nation’s electricity transmission and distribution system to maintain a reliable and secure energy infrastructure network. But there is more to be done to ensure our state benefits from an efficient, resilient and secure power grid well into the future.

 

More affordable 

In addition, evolving renewable energy generation, energy efficiency, demand management and storage technologies are becoming more affordable to adopt.

There are currently more than 975 megawatts of solar generation assets deployed in the state which annually generate more than 1300 gigawatts of clean affordable power available to Maryland ratepayers. Solar energy technology is becoming accessible to a broader spectrum of ratepayers, regardless of income and geography with the implementation of community solar and various energy subscriber power purchase models.

Offshore and land-based wind generation, on line now and anticipated for development in the future, is also creating jobs and related business development as the associated supply chain and need for services expand.

Clean energy benefits in our homes and offices are helping consumers improve residential and commercial building efficiency, resulting in lower utility bills and operational costs.

Enhanced building performance can also lead to improved indoor air quality. With buildings consuming nearly half of all energy produced in the United States, advancement in technology and materials, building codes, and financial rebates and incentives will provide a wide range of options for both building retrofits and new construction projects.

Other innovations include biomass energy projects, which are reducing the need for landfills and could help to address other waste management challenges as well as electric vehicles and transportation solutions that literally driving changes in one of the most significant sources of greenhouse gas emissions.

 

Reducing energy use, pollution

Overall, Maryland is reducing our energy use and impacts of unhealthy air pollutants. The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) recently ranked Maryland in the top 10 states in an evaluation of progress on efficiency policies and programs that save energy while benefiting the environment and promoting growth.

All this good news for the economy and energy innovation is are also good for the environment and human health.

We encourage all Marylanders to learn more about how you use energy, make smart choices about your power supply, and support policies and investments to continue making Maryland a leader in the evolving clean energy economy.

As part of National Clean Energy Week, we invite you to listen to a podcast series, which highlights clean energy technologies critical to Maryland’s economy and energy infrastructure at www.mptypodcast.com.

 

I. Katherine Magruder is Executive Director of the Maryland Clean Energy Center,ikm@mdcleanenergy.org; Liz Burdock is President and CEO of the Business Network for Offshore Wind,  liz@offshorewindus.org; David Murray is Executive Director of MDV-SEIA representing the solar energy industry in the region, dmurray@mdvseia.org.