There are five municipal electric utilities in Maryland: Berlin (Worcester County), Easton (Talbot County), Hagerstown (Washington County), Thurmont (Frederick County), and Williamsport (Washington County), each providing utilities specifically for their town and owned by the municipalities themselves. Maryland’s Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard (RPS) sets requirements for certain types of renewable energy credits (RECs) to be purchased by the utilities. Larger utilities can spread the burden for those costs among a much larger set of customers. Easton Utilities for example, has less than 17,000 residents, and being able to meet the exact percentages as required proved to be challenging and expensive.
The new legislation signed by Governor Hogan on May 18, 2021, dials back some of the percentage requirements for solar, wind and other energy types. Limiting the RPS percentage requirements going forward reduces the amount of RECs that municipal electric utilities must purchase for compliance each year, without negatively impacting the state’s goals for renewable energy. The cost savings can now be passed on to residents.
Old Line Government Affairs advocated for this legislation, which benefits those small, municipally owned utilities. The minor adjustment to the requirements as noted in the bill is projected to save taxpayers millions of dollars over time. In the short-term between now and 2023, the Town of Berlin alone projects a savings of more than $500,000 for its electric utility customers.
What made this possible? Last year, these utilities did not have the support of a lobbyist in their corner. Upon hiring the Old Line Government Affairs team, they had a voice — one that amplified that of small towns in order to make a big difference.
As Berlin Mayor Zack Tyndall noted, this legislation helped create an equitable playing field between municipal and other electric providers throughout the state. “On behalf of the Town of Berlin, I would like to thank Senator Addie Eckardt, Delegate Johnny Mautz, and Governor Larry Hogan for their support of this legislation. I also want to acknowledge the hard work of the Town of Berlin Electric Department, Brett Lininger and his team at Old Line Government Affairs, Booth and Associates, and Easton Utilities,” he said.