On May 27, 2016 Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) vetoed legislation to raise the state’s renewable power mandate from 20% to 25% by 2020, saying the bill would amount to an energy tax increase of up to $196 million.
Hogan’s veto surprised many coming less than a month after he had signed legislation imposing stricter cuts on greenhouse gas emissions within the state. While Hogan argued the previous legislation would not harm Maryland residents or businesses, and he said the goals of the renewable mandates bill were “laudable” in his letter announcing his veto of the bill, he wrote, “This legislation is a tax increase that will be levied upon every single electricity ratepayer in Maryland and, for that reason alone, I cannot allow it to become law.”
According to Hogan the bill would raise taxes between $49 million and $196 million by 2020 on top of the $104 million Maryland consumers paid renewable energy credits in 2014 alone.
Under current law, in 2016 Maryland electric suppliers must demonstrate renewable energy credits for 15.9% of their supply, with a goal of 20% by 2022 (including at least 2% solar and no more than 2.5% offshore wind). The new RPS would have targeted 25% by 2020.
“Electricity suppliers and consumers share an obligation to develop a minimum level of renewable resources in the electricity supply portfolio of the state,” Hogan wrote. “While I appreciate the economic benefit of Maryland’s growing solar industry, there is also a corresponding cost which is borne by all citizens under House Bill 1106. I believe the state should not add to this burden.”
H. Sterling Burnett, Ph.D. ([email protected]) is the managing editor of Environment & Climate News.