Solar at Maryland State House

MD Legislators are considering two bills that could have a major impact on the local solar industry and its customers. 

Solar Energy World was just one of more than 30 companies who gathered in Annapolis earlier this month to support the introduction of the Clean Energy Jobs Act of 2016 and another bill that will benefit homeowners who go solar by cutting down on grid interconnection time. Hundreds of solar employees celebrated the announcement of the progressive job investment policy by marching across the State Capitol to show their support in numbers. Legislators commented on the size of the group, which backed up entry around the block to the House Building.

SEW 2 solar installer on roofCLEAN ENERGY JOBS ACT TO CREATE MORE LOCAL JOBS

According to The Solar Foundation, Maryland is among the top 20 states where solar jobs grew by 30% or more in 2015.  A new bill, the Clean Energy Jobs Act of 2016, introduced by Delegate Jeff Waldstreicher on February 11th will keep solar job numbers growing by stimulating the use of renewable energy sources. The bill would effectively terminate the financing of dirty energy sources in Maryland that contribute to greenhouse gas emissions.

 BILL TO SHORTEN UTILITY WAIT TIME

The other bill that was introduced will also help increase solar adoption in Maryland. Sometimes after installation, customers can end up waiting more than two months for authorization from their electric company to “interconnect” — or hook up — their panels to the power grid.  This is frustrating problem for both the homeowner and the solar company that installed the solar system. Homeowners are eager to start saving money one their electricity bills, but the utility company doesn’t seem to be as enthusiastic about this and the solar companies can only do so much to speed up the utility company’s bureaucracy.

According to an EQ Research report, Pepco’s 2014 interconnection time in Maryland was on average 76 days! Baltimore Gas & Electric Co. did considerably better with a wait time of only 15 days but other utility companies in the Maryland area are closer to Pepco’s average.

The lag time at the beginning is typically due to paperwork that must be mailed back and forth between customers and their electric company. To shorten this wait time, an important step to accelerating residential installations has been proposed by Del. Benjamin Kramer, D-19-Montgomery that would require electric companies to complete the process of interconnecting customers’ solar panel systems within 20 business days, or about 30 calendar days. It’s a crucially important measure that will accelerate residential installations and improve service and satisfaction for Maryland homeowners.

CONTACT YOUR LOCAL REPRESENTATIVES

As these key solar bills are considered in the Senate hearings throughout the next month, representatives from this rapidly growing industry will continue to work with legislators to discuss the positive impacts of these smart initiatives for the health and welfare of Maryland residents. To voice your support, contact your local representatives and tell them it’s important to make this history-making proposal a priority.

By Sharon Derby, Solar Energy World

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