November 18, 2020

Senate Finance Committee: November 17, 2020

Home | Politics | Senate Finance Committee: November 17, 2020

Opening comments, Senator Feldman

The last few years, the committee has done a lot on the clean energy space and essentially energy policy comes within the jurisdiction of the committee.  This year, there have been some developments in this area, particularly the announcement of closures of some of our coal-fired plants in Maryland.  One is in my district and recently an announcement of additional closures.  At the same time, there has been a lot of discussion about the workforce and what happens to the workers at these facilities.  So as we continue, as a country, to transition away from fossil fuels to renewable energy, I think it is important for this committee to have a sense of what the impact of these changes are in Maryland and equally important is what is the impact of the workforce.  What do we do with the workers who have been displaced?


The final issue is, if there is a change in administration come January 20, 2021, the incoming administration has talked about a pretty significant investment in the clean energy space and so it is those states that can be positioned in terms of infrastructure that will really benefit in a significant way in terms of Federal investments.


David Smedick – Sierra Club

Changing Landscape of Coal

  • We are seeing some really rapid changes in the electricity sector.  
  • Across the country – looking at power generation by energy source:
    • Declining coal – growth in gas – significant growth in renewables that we are starting to experience.

Specific to Maryland

  • Change since 2000 in terms of Maryland’s electricity generation scope is shown in this map.
  • A lot more work to do in solar, wind and other renewables but they are starting to increase and the Clean Energy Jobs Act is going to help in that process.
  • Maryland has a more precipitous decline in coal than nationally – remarkable change in landscape over the last 10 years.
  • At the beginning of 2020, Maryland had 6 coal-fired power plants in operation.
  • 80% drop since 2007 in electricity from coal-fired power plants and seeing a steeper dip in 2020
  • Coal is still an outsized pollution contributor to greenhouse gas emissions.  
    • Official numbers from the Department of Environment, coal is still a huge contributor to greenhouse gas emissions.  State laws mandate a pretty significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.
    • We only have 10, 20, 30 years to make all of our progress to net-zero emissions.  
    • Coal is important because of its carbon intensity, sulfur dioxide and smaller forming nitrogen dioxide emissions.
  • Looking at how we are transitioning and using energy in a more responsible way
  • Since the start of 2020, 4 out of 6 of the coal-fired plants have either deactivated completely or announced their plans to deactivate in coming years.
    • Dickerson Power Plant (Montgomery County) August 2020
    • Chalk Point Coal Generating Station (Prince George’s County) June 2021
    • Brandon Shores/Wagner power plants by end of 2025


Maryland Draft Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act Plan

Best practices for “Just Transition”

  • Provide a timeline for the phase-out of activities
  • Create worker training programs that facilitate the transfer of employees to new jobs
  • Provide a transition oversight body
  • Fund the transition.


Maryland Commission on Climate Change, 2020 Annual Report

“The General Assembly should establish a clear, enforceable schedule to responsibly manage Maryland’s transition off its remaining coal-fired power plants by no later than 2030 and replace the capacity with equivalent non-coal-fired power, including the creation of a workforce and community transition plan to support laid-off workers and impacted communities.”


Impacts of transitioning from fossil fuels in our electric sector that need to be managed:

  • Community feedback and ownership over what happens next
  • Displaced workers need immediate support
  • Local governments need to be consulted and to ensure financial stability
  • We need to ensure high quality, family-supporting and union jobs are created here in Maryland


Other states that are better managing the transition:

New York


New Mexico






Senator Brian Feldman:  Last year we had a bill in our committee which scheduled specific dates for coal-fired power plants to close.  I understand that you may be bringing it back this year.  How do you respond to those who would say, look, these closures are taking place on their own.  Economics is dictating that closure, why would we need a bill to do what is happening organically because of economics?      


David Smedick:  I appreciate that question.  As I noted in the slide show, the Dept of Environment and Commission on Climate change have cited that to better manage this transition, you need to have timelines in place.  The best way to start managing this is to know when it is going to happen in certain facilities and then we can better plan for the process by which we are going to support workers in communities.  


Senator Pamela Beidle:  Other states are going through similar transitions.  What are they doing different?


David Smedick:  Colorado, for example, has established an entire office in state government for “Just Transition” to evaluate the timing of various facility closures and identifying additional funding resources that can support the programs.


Washington State passed legislation to move entirely off of coal-fired power in the electricity sector and provide financial support for impacted communities and I’m happy to distribute that kind of legislation.


Similarly, in NY, they are constantly debating ways to create better, higher paying jobs in the clean energy sector; offshore wind, solar, etc.  New York State just, a few years ago, through regulatory processes ended coal burning in 2020 for them as well.  


So, again, it is setting the timeline by which you want to see this happen and then providing the programs and funding to make it work.


Senator Pamela Beidle:  Will the Commission on Climate Change be reported back to the legislature?


David Smedick:  It should be, yes.  


Chair Delores Kelley:  What, from your perspective, would you say needs to be done and what kind of timelines need to be set in order to have less disruption and more movement to clean energy from the perspective of labor?


David Smedick:  I can’t speak for Labor but I can speak to what other states looking at that could be applicable here.  Policies and funding mechanisms to deal with wage displacement mechanisms, health displacement benefits or wage gap benefits so if you are facing job loss or displacement in one sector and you are getting a job in another sector, is there a way that you can be supported during that time.  Also, a reallocation of benefits as well and I think that the health care piece is really important too.  I think the other thing that we are looking at is how are we replacing those high-quality union jobs in our emerging industries especially in the clean energy sector.  We have done some work on that in Maryland regarding offshore wind but we need to get those projects built and we need to build more of them.  It is not just about job displacement, it is about ensuring that the new jobs we are creating are supporting workforce and families in the same way.  


Chair Delores Kelley:  As we move eventually to off-shore wind, I don’t expect that there would be long-term jobs paying wages comparable to what many of the people coming from organized labor are currently getting in these industries so what could we do that is sustainable for these folks or what else could we add to our clean energy portfolio once the basic infrastructure has been built?  


David Smedick:  I will be curious to hear from both the Labor people as well as the clean energy people on that.  I think that is a really important question.  We know that you don’t employ the same number of people at a solar farm as you do at a coal or gas-fired power plant.  We need to start thinking about what are the maintenance and operation requirements for our new infrastructure and I don’t have the answers to that.  


Senator Stephen Hershey:  Can you talk a little bit about what we saw that happened out in California with some of the brown outs that have kind-of been contributed to this same movement towards the intermittent energy generation and away from the reliable energy sources especially when it comes to the capacity market and the times of peak demand.  What happened there and are moving in a direction that would prevent that from happening or allow for that to happen?


David Smedick:  I cannot speak specifically to what happened in California but I can speak to what is happening more locally in Maryland and PJM.  PJM, our grid operator, one of their first and foremost responsibilities is to make sure that we have reliable power and that we are not facing those brown outs.  I think that we have seen in some of the reports that they have put out in evaluating their capacity market and their capacity performance market, is during some of the polar vortex events, we have actually had a lot of fossil fuel facilities that could not come on line and operate because of a variety of issues (they were up for maintenance at the time, the coal piles froze, etc).  That point of different power sources and how they respond to different weather events is a really interesting question but I think it goes beyond just talking about the sun shining and the wind blowing.  I think that is part of the reason that we need to start planning for this transition process a heck of a lot more as to when our fossil resources are going offline so that the grid can be ready for it.


PJM evaluated both the Dickerson Plant deactivation and the deactivation of Chalk Point this summer and in both instances, they found that there were no reliability concerns. 


Senator Stephen Hershey:  I would be happy to hear what PJM has to say about that.  As he understands it, the facilities that went offline this summer were just peakers that were only used some of the time. 


Kim Coble, MD League of Conservation Voters (also the Co-Chair of the Commission on Climate Change)


Maryland LCV recently went through a strategic planning process and are putting the final touches on it.  They have identified climate change as the most urgent environmental threat facing people on the planet.  The main focus of their work over the next several years will be centered on equitable laws and policies to address climate change impacts in Maryland.


World Resources Institute recently conducted a study of all 50 state’s CO2 emissions and their economic growth between 2005-2017.  They found that 41 out of 50 states have grown their economies while reducing their carbon dioxide emissions.  They also noted that MD cut CO2 emissions 37.6% in that time period, more than any other state while simultaneously growing the state’s economy by 17.7%.


We can implement bold climate change policies and grow our economy at the same time.


Maryland Commission on Climate Change 2020 Annual Report

Commission is made up of 4 working groups:  

  • Adaptation and Resiliency
  • Education and Communications and Outreach
  • Science and Technical
  • Mitigation


This year there are recommendations to better implement climate injustice into our approach and more meaningfully engage with disadvantaged and overburdened communities.


Recommendations from the Mitigation Working Group:

  • Reduction goals
    • Adopt a more ambitions Greenhouse Gas Reduction (GHG) Goal – MD should reduce statewide GHG emissions by 50% by 2030 (up from a 40% reduction)
    • The reduction plans shall be developed in recognition of the finding by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that developed countries will need to reduce GHG emissions to net zero by 2045
  • The General Assembly should set forth a plan to achieve 100% clean energy by 2040 – and should focus on providing the benefits of clean energy to overburdened and underserved communities first.
  • General Assembly should establish a clear, enforceable schedule to manage Maryland’s transition off its remaining coal-fired power plants by no later than 2030 AND replace with non-coal power AND create workforce and community transition plans.
  • Maryland should develop a three-pronged incentive approach to utility, commercial and residential scale battery storage consisting of upfront rebates, performance incentives access to low cost-financing.
  • Maryland should continue to increase storage capacity and deploy other grid improvements to facilitate the use and dependability for renewably sourced generation.  




Senator Antonio Hayes:  A lot of the conversation we have had today has really been about the jobs associated with the industry.  I wonder if there has been any conversations or anything that you can point to in other states as it relates to equity in diversity within generators of clean industry or that they are doing in other states that we should be considering?


Kim Coble:  The answer is yes.  There are a lot of conversations going around about the importance of community outreach, diversity and how to address these.  I know that there are a number of bills in the works that would start to look at the impact of these things in the renewable energy space.  In the Commission report, there is a new section on climate/environmental justice that addresses it.  I can’t speak to the specifics but I will say that there is a tremendous amount of conversation going on around this issue.


Senator Antonio Hayes:  I’m more interested, not so much in jobs, but in ownership in the clean energy industry as far as inclusion exists.


David Murray, Cyrus Tashakkori Chesapeake Solar & Storage Association (CHESSA)

(Formerly MDV-SEIA)

Representing the Solar and Energy Association in VA, MD, DC & occasionally DE


Senator Hayes, you raised an interesting question about equity in this industry and I want to talk about it now.  Equity in solar ownership is fundamental to the industry and there are a number of efforts that seek to address that.  One is the Maryland Community Solar Program where 30% of the community’s solar programs are focused towards customers that are low to moderate income.  There are also initiatives like Grid Alternatives and Civic Works that try to address the workforce element of the solar industry.  


How do we provide solar to those in what I call ‘the missing middle’?  Those that have the credit or the capital to put solar on the roof are able to do so and those who qualify for the low to moderate income program are also able to access solar energy.  What if you don’t necessarily have the cash or credit or do not qualify for the low/moderate income programs?  We’ve made a couple of recommendations to the NEA as to how they can revise their grant program to really access what I call lower middle class homeowners in order to provide them solar.


Graph shows solar deployment in MD year-by-year.  You can see that we really never get back to 2016 deployment.  We really need that number to be about 60 in order to meet our goals laid out in the Clean Energy Act.


Why have we not been able to return to 2016 levels?

  • In 2018, Federal tariffs were set on solar panels, steel and aluminum
  • SREC market has remained stable and modestly priced – commercial industry started to come back before COVID-19
  • COVID-19
    • Residential market spooked in March but are now back at healthy levels
    • Commercial markets tell the opposite story
      • In the beginning, the commercial market kept the workforce employed
      • Too much uncertainty in the commercial real estate market now
    • Governor Hogan allowed the industry to keep operating as essential workers/critical infrastructure, with appropriate safety guidelines
      • Most activities can be performed outdoors & socially-distant
      • Limited indoor activity required for the installation
  • Permitting Challenges
    • Maryland counties are adopting the 2018 International Residential Code, which mandates a larger “fire setback” on residential installations
      • For most counties, this means fewer solar panels can be placed on the home, often a 30% reduction in a project size, or kill the project because the homeowner cannot offset a significant enough portion of their energy burden
    • Permitting and inspection at the county level remains disparate and often inefficient
      • Long review periods, inconsistent revision cycles, unclear responsibilities within departments
      • Dated practices like in-person or paper application requirements delay projects, some commercial projects report being delayed over a year
  • DG Permitting and Inspection Solutions
    • CHESSA working to implement a “variance” or exemption to the fire setback requirement, resembling pre-2020 practice in many Maryland counties – would prefer a statewide solution
    • Adoption of SolarApp, a national software designed to save counties money and installers time through an automated solar permitting process
    • Follow the Leaders:  Harford and Howard Counties
      • Streamlined permitting process
      • Online permitting and opportunity to track projects and schedule inspections
      • Clear guidelines and limited review cycles
  • Utility – Scale Permitting Challenges
    • In 2019 Court of Special Appeals concluded that the PSC has ultimate siting authority and that the role of local governments is as a participant in the robust state CPCN process
    • Despite the ruling PPRP has given an effective veto of state COCNs to local governments.  Such a ruling will guarantee that Maryland will not achieve its in-state solar goals by 2030.
    • The resulting delays have reduced the pace of utility-scale solar permits to a crawl, with only 1 CPCN granted in 2020, down from 2 in 2019 and 8 in 218, despite the passage of CEJA in 2019
    • A recent report from the Center for Climate Strategies found that removing barriers to utility-scale solar permitting would increase new direct local investment in Maryland by $422 million and increase wages by $340 million through 2030
  • Utility Scale Permitting Solutions
    • The PSC and members of the General Assembly are working on solutions:
      • Improve structure, transparency & local government participation in CPCN process
      • Require PPRP to share certain analysis with the PSC for each CPCN application.
    • What can the Senate Finance Committee do?
      • Clarify that once a CPCN has been granted by the PSC, it cannot subsequently delayed, conditioned or denied at the local level
      • Ensure that PSC’s licensing conditions govern and cannot be subsequently changed at the local level




Senator Stephen Hershey:  I represent four rural counties and many of the counties feel that they are taking on the burden to reach our renewable energy goals when it comes to utility-scale solar projects and I mean that just by the acreage required to do some of these projects.  It always gets brought up to me how much of the share of utility-scale solar is going out into these counties as opposed to other counties.  I know you mentioned what Harford and Howard Counties are doing and I’m not sure if that is related to utility-scale projects or not.  Maybe you could reference that but also I know that Montgomery County has been in the news with their Agricultural Corridor and what might be able to occur in that area as well.  If you could maybe discuss those two issues and then finally because we are talking so much about jobs can you kind of go over a little bit about what the employment status might look like for a utility-scale solar project?  How many people are on site? How long are they on site?  Where are these people coming from?  And then once one of these projects are done, are there any other ancillary projects after related to the installation of that project?


Cyrus Tashakkori:  Senator Hersey thank you for the questions.  I’ll take that last one first.  The profile of utility-scale solar project, like any kind of infrastructure, type of jobs, real estate market, real estate construction included is front-end loaded.  A lot of jobs, a massive number of jobs, up front and then a large long-term kind of tax-based impact on the economy after that.  So similar to commercial/residential bridges and roads, the expectation is that over the next decade the same several thousand  folks would be employed going from one large project to the next one just like Maryland’s construction industry currently operates.  A lot of those jobs are, in fact as many as are feasible, as there is interest are provided by the local communities and many of them are construction jobs and don’t require particular expertise.  However, over the next decade you would see a specialization among the construction industry that would be based in Maryland going from one project to the next in an ideal world.  You see, we are trying to get there with the permitting issue in the state.


Senator Stephen Hershey:  Real quick on that because you related it to the construction industry and then I saw earlier where David had mentioned about the federal tariffs.  Are we manufacturing solar panels in the United States or are we still relying on overseas production of panels?  


Cyrus Tashakkori:  Sure.  The largest manufacturer in the world is in Ohio and also has an office in Arizona.  We do not manufacture panels in MD but First Solar, I think you are familiar with them, is the largest manufacturer.  There are other manufacturers in the US.  It is a global market just like a lot of different industries that are active in Maryland the supplies come from all over the world.


Just briefly, you are correct that something between 60-70% of the solar projects in Maryland end up on the Eastern Shore.  Some counties on the Eastern Shore really look at this as a very unique development opportunity.  The good news and the bad news, depending on how you look at it, is there are very very few actual locations across the Eastern Shore or across Maryland where you can actually develop a solar farm.  It has to be a perfect crossing over of transmission capacity, transmission infrastructure, land and economics.  Even in the counties that host the most solar farms, more than 95% of the land in the county is ineligible for participation and the remainder is not a guarantee that any of that works.  I think there is a perception that you are going to see the county paved and that is just not practical.  


Senator Stephen Hershey:  Then let me ask a follow up to that.  If certain areas really could not handle a solar project for various reasons including the economics of it, have we created a goal or RPF that is not achievable from that perspective or could you, in a sense your industry, come up with a map that says here is exactly where we need to put these projects in order to meet our goal because sometimes as policy makers we will focus more on the goal and the environmental attributes or the intent of what we are doing but not necessarily recognize can we actually achieve that or not.  So can you respond to that a little bit?


Cyrus Tashakkori:  Sure.  This was a big part of the conversation we had as part of the passage of CEJA.  Is this an achievable goal?  Really, what we are here to say is we have everything we need.  The policies are in place.  The permitting regime is really slamming on the brakes.  There is fuel in the car.  We are ready to step on the gas.  We need the traffic cop to get the memo so that we can actually develop these projects and they are the same volume of projects that we projected when we were talking about the Clean Energy Jobs Act last year and the year before.  They actually are in the PJM que.  You can download them and look at them today.  It is not a matter of ‘is it feasible?’ It is a matter of ‘can we improve the permitting regime?’, the state permitting regime, which should be working well if not for a couple of issues that are obstructing the process so that we can get a resolution on these projects one way or another.


Senator Stephen Hershey:  Right but, Cyrus, you mentioned that 70% of the projects were on the Eastern Shore.  Extrapolating that out, are you saying in order to meet our jobs we have to keep that percentage of 60-70% of the utility-scale projects out on the Eastern Shore in order to reach those goals?


Cyrus Tashakkori:  Yeah, I think that the answer to where will those projects be located, I think it is safe to say that 60-70% of them either are already permitted on the Eastern Shore or will be.  They are certainly in the PJM queue and you can see where they are being proposed.  Many of them are in the permitting process; some of them have their permits already.  So the answer is that the 2000 or so megawatts that add up to what we projected as the 20-30 volume of solar 60-70% of that is on the Eastern Shore and, again, you can drive to Annapolis from Ocean City without seeing a single solar panel so really it’s a tiny percentage of ag land on the Eastern Shore.  So just to put it in perspective, it sounds like a lot when you say 70% of the solar is in the area but when you consider that it is less than 1% of ag land in the state it is a bit of a different story.


Chair Delores Kelley:  I’m interested in knowing where else, other than on the Eastern Shore, when from a geological perspective it makes sense to look at possibly permitting goals.  If much of the Eastern Shore is not even geologically permittable where could we go from just a geological perspective and should we have a map of where those areas are which help you guide where the investment in the energy and permitting are?


Cyrus Tashakkori:  The issue is really not the one of land or geology, it really comes down to transmission capacity and transmission infrastructure.  But, just backing up, I will say that the CPCN process is fully equipped to explore all of these issues some of which are highly technical and to weigh the pros and cons and to make a decision on the public benefit or not of a project and its very challenging to translate this into a map or a descriptive policy but the process itself is extremely robust.  The Public Service Commission has the technical expertise to make these decisions.  It is a lot of local input already in the process and we are trying to increase that so really it is not a matter of feasibility.  We just want the process to be tweaked so that it can work the way that it is supposed to work.  


Chair Delores Kelley:  There are some natural benefits then if you’ve got transmission lines already in an area?  So when you think about transmission lines, if that is an important variable, what would you suggest would be the 2 or 3 counties or areas of the state where it makes sense to begin focusing with that in mind?


Cyrus Tashakkori:  If I could wave a magic wand and build a solar farm right in the middle of Montgomery County, that would be the best place to inject electricity.  Obviously, that is not feasible, for a variety of reasons.  It is a dense urban area.  But those are the kind of challengers, as developers, we face.  We try to triangulate many variables to try to find a site.  


Chair Delores Kelley:  I can see having to deal with people variables and also the natural science variables.  I’m trying to find out what in terms of the configuration from a geological to a transmission perspective would make sense if we were committed to doing what we ought to be doing?


Cyrus Tashakkori:  It’s a tough question because there is a lot of technical analysis involved.  I could, for example, generate a map for Senator Hershey today that a year from now those sites would no longer have transmission capacity because it is a fluid situation.  It is a fluid grid.  It is really hard to explain in this context but if you can imagine that being a statement of fact, that gives you an idea of how hard it is to try to decide up front where to put these solar projects when we are beholden to the grid, the transmission system, and that is very fluid.  There is Federal regulation involved and there is state policy obviously.  All kinds of variables.


Chair Delores Kelley:  If we want private citizens and companies that exist in MD to have an equity position in these projects so that you have the resources from that perspective, we do need to be able to tell people where it makes sense to go.  It sounds like there are a lot of constraints that are not necessarily people constraints but natural science constraints of various kinds.  Are we working  on some way of making that intelligible for people that would want to be involved in this industry and to counties that have to consider, when someone comes up asking for a permit to do something.  What makes sense?


Cyrus Tashakkori:  The segment I am specifically talking to is several dozen projects.  The commercial and even the community solar are hundreds of smaller projects all over the state have a different level of regulation.  They are not subject to PSC regulation. There is a whole business model around and the regulations allow for subscription or participation in those projects.  


Chair Delores Kelley:  We do not have enough information about the utility-scale projects to create policy around it.  We cannot create operational goals until we understand it.  You brought up some variables that I was not even thinking about.  I was thinking about people as impediments.  


Liz Burdock, Business Network for Offshore Wind


Marlyand based national nonprofit.  Largest global nonprofit fully focused on offshore wind with 340 members.  Currently have their first offshore wind project in federal waters (off of Virginia).  Built during the summer.  On time.  On budget.


  • Currently have two projects in operation off of the United States since 2013.  
  • States are now committed to ensuring 30 Gigawatts of offshore wind.
  • 9.1 gigawatts of offshore wind that have received financial mechanisms (PPPA or OREC).
  • First floating offshore wind project which received over $100 million investment from a private utility in Germany


Offshore Wind Development Timeline

  • In the permitting phase in the construction and operations area
  • 10 projects under review right now
  • The approval process has been delayed so they are backed up
  • Skip Jack is number 4 in the queue
  • Need to reduce the time of the permitting process from 10 years down to 5 years


Despite the delay, they have seen unprecedented investment in the offshore wind industry.  Last quarter, $1 billion was invested in the industry.  


Been tracing supplier contracts that have been awarded.  320 supplier contracts given out so far.


  • Seeing core infrastructure investment from Virginia up through Massachusetts.  
  • NJ has put $200 million into a super wind manufacturing port. 
  •  NY has also put $200 million into port infrastructure as well.  
  • Currently have Tradepoint Atlantic under construction to be ready as a staging site for the Skip Jack project.  


Points of Interconnection 

  • These are areas where onshore substations will be built providing many different job opportunities for the surrounding communities
  • There will also be CTV (ships) built in Maryland (2-4 of the 50 that are needed will be built in MD)
  • They will also require mariners to drive them
  • 8 Service Operations Vessels (SOVs) will also be required.  They hold 30 technicians out at sea for 2 weeks at a time.  
  • GE was elected as the turbine supplier for Skip Jack


There is a Health & Safety training facility located on the Eastern Shore that will provide certification for all workers on Maryland projects.


Foundation 2 Blade – Industry Training

  • Presents market entry paths
  • Help businesses develop business plans
  • Creates pathways to diversity within the industry


Have a supply chain self-registry for businesses who are working or want to work in the offshore wind industry.  Need welders, IT, cybersecurity, mariners, estimators, drone pilots, etc.




Senator Ben Kramer:  At this point, where does Maryland stand in the big picture of offshore wind?  7 years ago, we were in the forefront and had hopes of turning the Port of Baltimore into a major hub in creation and construction of offshore wind on the East Coast.  Are we even a player at this point or have other states taken over?


Liz Burdock:  Unfortunately, other states have taken over.  Our commitment pales in comparison to other states.  New York has 9,000.  New Jersey has, I believe, 6,000 now. Massachusetts is increasing their commitment to 6,000.  Virginia has 5,200.  We are behind.  What we need in this state is a reset.  We need to be bold and big.  It is going to be announced soon that Scotland is going to put in place an 11 million gigawatt commitment.  They have 6.5 million people in their country.  We have 6 million in Maryland.  This is the type of big, bold initiative that we need to have.  I was very happy to see the Governor enter into a commitment with NC and Virginia on smart power regional partnership but we need to have our own plan.


Senator Ben Kramer:  At this point, do you know if there are still plans for this major backbone down the Atlantic Coast, because at one time that was also part of the conversation, or is it just going to be each individual developer finds its own transmission lines and runs them directly onshore?


Liz Burdock:  The first 10 gigawatts are probably in a single line but we have been meeting with developers, the MD PSC was a part of this conversation, to talk about a coordinated grid strategy.  We recommend that there is an ocean grid backbone developed.


Chair Delores Kelley:  What could you do if we were interested in increasing jobs.  You mentioned a job fair.  Tell us a little bit about the criteria and skill sets that you need.  Could the average community college graduate do what you have done or would curriculums need to be created?  If we gave scholarships to young people to work in the industry, how long would it take then to get up and running?


Liz Burdock:  We need all skill levels of workers.  It is a multipronged approach.  I would love to be able to immolate Tufts University and put a Masters of Offshore men into our University of Maryland system.  We could take people right now that, even if they had undergraduate offshore and environmental studies curriculum, we could take them now.  As we start with the port construction and the onshore construction the moving through the manufacturing structures being established and then we go into the construction and installation phase, we will need skilled workers, our labor unions, high voltage electricians, apprenticeship programs, technical training as it relates to wind turbine transmission, the automotive industry.  As an automotive technician you can easily go into wind transmission.  There are so many things that we actually need that cover all facets.


Senator Pam Klausmeier:  Thanks to Liz for your tenacity!  


Baltimore – DC Metro Building Trades Council

Mr. Rick Binetti


Apprenticeship: (well-paid, middle-class-building jobs)

  • Not likely to be the same quantity or quality jobs in the green industry as in the current energy industry.
  • Need to start getting these utility-scale solar projects off the ground.
  • Strides are being made to create jobs – last year’s CEJA bill being a good example.
  • Possible legislation in the geothermal industry this year.
  • Maryland needs to do more to create more accountability in how it polices the Labor policies related to how it spends its capital dollars.  Department of Labor is consistently understaffed making it easier for unscrupulous contractors to obtain contracts without paying the kinds of wages the state requires them to pay when leveraging the capital dollars.
  • Maryland Stadium Authority, University of Maryland System, MedCo bond financing used to pay for public infrastructure.  These are all exempt from the State’s prevailing wage law.  While small in number and value, there are multiple tax breaks out there for businesses to hire under apprenticeships but they do not.  These tax breaks don’t have any real strings attached to them in regards to pay scales.  
  • The largest county in the state consistently uses 22-24% state money to build schools.  Many other counties do this as well be it on a less consistent basis.  These are ways for counties at the local level to get around Maryland’s prevailing wage law when it is using the State’s capital construction dollars to do so.  
  • While we were able to get language passed in the last two years that requires contractors bidding on state contracts to provide a base level of health care coverage for construction workers, there is a lot more the state can do for its procurement system to incentivize contractors, both big and small, who obtain state contracts to maintain family sustaining wages and quality health care when they hire workers.
  • The General Assembly should require the Maryland Public Service Commission to consider climate labor when regulating utilities and helping utilities to map out what the transition would look like to green energy.  
  • The transition to green energy is unlikely to create the amount of legacy jobs that the energy industry currently holds for trade workers.  The transition won’t be about swapping one job out for another, especially for these large-scale utility projects and there won’t be enough jobs to help fill the gap.  It is going to take a larger, more holistic approach to how the State uses the massive amount of investment power it has to create meaningful employment if they want to keep these jobs in the state.


Senator Feldman:  I will note that, with respect to geothermal, I am working with Delegate Charkoudian on the other side on some geothermal legislation that I think will be helpful in this regard.


Jeff Guido


Apprenticeship Program

As far as our apprenticeship program goes, we have trained very much in green energy.  Green roofs, geothermal, solar, thermo skin of the building, rain water catching systems, changing over impervious pavement to pervious pavement, which is a huge ongoing project in Prince George’s County.  So we are very well involved in green energy and have been training for those jobs.  Anything you need from workers, we have the capacity to train really at no cost to the state.  We pay for all of our own training through our apprenticeship programs.  We have about 22-23 programs in the state and spend about $20million a year on apprenticeship training.  I know the Block Island offshore wind was a project labor agreement and David spoke about creating jobs.  The best way to do that is through a project labor agreement which ensures the contract has a fair bidding process and is also fair to the economy.  It las to be agreeable to the PLA.


Delegate Melissa Wells, on behalf of the Baltimore – DC Metro Building Trades Council

Apprenticeship Program

  • The piece that really resonated with me were the remarks made by Liz Burdock.  We know we have a significant skilled labor shortage which is not just an American problem but it sounds like it is becoming a global problem.  Also, the other piece is really the market conditions that exist here in Maryland.  The conditions not only on how we do employment and oversight of labor but also the fact that when we talk about this green economy and we talk about the greener utility network, we also have to look at the fact that that network requires investment in significant infrastructure.  So, if you think about Tradepoint Atlantic and what they are doing with the staging for offshore wind, well that is possible because they have access to the harbor and access to a rail network.  South of us in Virginia, they are making those investments in infrastructure that Maryland is not making so when we have the conversation about the blueprint, we also have to make sure the blueprint is looking at the broader network of transportation.  In rail, we are making strides in Maryland but also making sure that those investments in rail are being included in these blueprints.  We have to look at every opportunity that we make capital investments, if it’s on school construction, transportation and rail, we have to make sure that there are some clear guidelines around apprenticeship utilization.
  • How do you prepare a high school student, an adult, the unemployed or people who have historically been under-employed for these jobs?  The conversation mostly happens as these projects are coming on board but by then we have really missed an opportunity.
  • We have no standard in Maryland that says you have to use a certain amount of apprenticeship on a project.
  • There are contractors who are not at all making an investment in training.  The apprenticeship is the biggest on-ramp for anyone to become a skilled man or woman and for them to move up to become an estimator or a member owner.  


We have a robust network for training.

  • These programs are managed both with the unions and the 1,200 contractors that participate.
  • Focusing on diversity.  Recruiting women, veterans, people of color so that the workers reflect the surrounding communities.
  • We should be seeing the skill level of Maryland construction community increasing over time if we have all of this work and we have people providing all of this opportunity for training
  • We must increase apprenticeships in contracting and procurement
    • Use contractors who are part of a multi-employer networks that provide sustained wages, benefits, and employment opportunities from project to project for registered apprentices and journey-level tradesmen and women;
    • Oversight, enforcement, and penalties of misclassification, wage and hour violations.




Senator Pam Klausmeier:  Is the ‘heating and frosting’ is that ‘heating and air conditioning’?


Delegate Melissa Wells:    No that is the asbestos workers and they do insulation of pipes that way it keeps the cold out.  


Senator Pam Klausemeier:  I have people in my district and they do not have union jobs but heating and air conditioning.  We always need those folks and they are small businesses for the most part and they have come to me and asked for apprenticeship programs.  I think Vice Chair Feldman has been through that as well after you passed your bill two years ago.  We are having trouble getting apprenticeship programs for them because they don’t fit into union based apprenticeship programs and that goes into the bill so I don’t know if there is any way you could help me or give me some suggestions to help them.


Delegate Melissa Wells:  We see our model as a conglomerate of people pulling their money together to pay for it.  It actually is conditioned for small businesses that need to expand and contract their labor quickly and also be able to pull resources to make the investment.  There may be another conversation to be had with those businesses about how successfully they are bidding work and what type of contracts they are getting.  We can have a conversation about all of that.


Senator Pam Klausmeier:  I hate to say this while we’re talking unions but ABC has had an apprenticeship program with heating and air conditioning and I don’t know if it is still in existence or not but I just think we need to have that conversation.


Delegate Melissa Wells:  Just to be clear, we do have union heating programs.  In Baltimore we have 486.  We have steamfitters 602 in Prince George’s and we also have the plumbers and gas fitters local 5.  A lot of times the conditions in Maryland…we need to improve those conditions in Maryland because we get a lot more work in Virginia and DC than we do in Maryland.  I’ve had people that I trained in the Baltimore program who go to Virginia or DC to work on projects.  Or folks who are in Prince George’s who want to work in Prince George’s, I work with the school system there and they are going to DC and Virginia as well.  The conversation about market conditions has to be the underlying focus of this because you can transition but if the market is providing a space for those good union jobs pretty much are the last of those union jobs then we need to understand why they have gotten weaker and why we are creating more market conditions for this new clean energy process that we are creating right now.


Senator Malcolm Augustine:  Green energy is an important priority and the other priority is jobs that will support families.  I am so glad that we have brought these two things together.  What is of interest to me is what do the building trade unions think we need to do legislatively to further strengthen those connections such that we do see more of an uptake in some of the programs for apprenticeships?


Jeff Guido:  One thing that has to take place is that when you put out a RFP the building specifications have to state that we are going to have solar panels, green roofs, the geothermal, that you build to those specifications.  It is then that you open up those jobs and opportunities for those apprenticeship contractors.  If you don’t state it specifically, they are going to bid the project to what is in those documents so any public works that go out should include that language and specifications and then you will get a greener project and more green jobs.


Delegate Melissa Wells:  I think the other thing though too is these conversations also need to happen at the local level because we know that the capital investment projects that we are seeing that do take place are procured by the counties or the municipals.  


Senator Joanne Benson:  For a number of years we have been talking about apprenticeships as it pertains to persons who are incarcerated who are returning back to their communities.  We have heard today about the problems of the labor and shortage of employees and we have also heard about the workshop that is going to take place to employ people to work.  I am just trying to figure out, what happened with the apprenticeship programs that were in our institutions?  Are those still going strong and can we use this program to provide workers for the green projects?  A little concerned with the public/private partnership that is going to take place with the building of the schools.  Are we protecting the workers but also preparing the young people that are coming out of the correctional facilities to take on some of these high skilled jobs?


Delegate Melissa Wells:  I know that we have been trying to broker conversations with the Department of Corrections.  I believe there are some programs there.  In the building trades, we are the national training partner for all of California and will be in all of their correctional facilities by the end of June next year so we have curriculum to do that.  We are working with high schools.  We have a program that we are working on right now with Woodlawn High School in Baltimore County.  Also, we are doing a program with High Point High School in Prince George’s County.  The biggest challenge when it comes to high school students though is our students really just need to have a good grasp of math.  We have to find a way to fuel their interest in the construction trade which is becoming more virtual.  The technology is changing which appeals to young people.  The other challenge is a lot of folks in high school do not have transportation so getting to the jobs that the apprenticeships are a part of is still a bit of a challenge for us. 


Senator Joanne Benson:  It seems to me that if there are all of these opportunities in the solar industry that we would want to talk to the corrections facilities about involving these individuals that are coming out of the facilities because one of the problems that causes the recidivism is that these people come out of the correctional facilities.  They do not have the skills to work.  There is no promise and they end up getting back into trouble.  We have got to do something about this problem here.  If we are talking about the programs that were discussed today, I think that may be one avenue that we want to explore.  


Tom Myers, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW)


  • Represents about 9,500+ electricians in Maryland, Virginia and DC all are directly affected by the closure of the coal plants
  • Affiliated with 700,000 electricians in the US and Canada
  • Represent inside electricians, utility electricians, linemen, railroad, government, low and high voltage, communication, and tele-data workers
  • If you would like these people involved in the green energy industry the simplest thing you can do is to provide for a very simple process by which PLAs are approved, that any and all government money spent will require some sort of PLA so that the money that the state spends from its treasury will go back to the workers in those states.
  • Local 26 does not charge for any of its training.  They do not take any money from the state.
  • The only thing holding the organized trades from training more people is the ability to secure jobs for our contractors.  That is the single most important thing and it hasn’t been said.
  • Senator Benson I would also like to point out that the trades do not discriminate against people with felonies.  I have people in my apprenticeships now that are convicted felons.  We tell the that it is not a problem for them to come in and get trained.  It is not a problem for them to become an electrician.  The problem is that some of the jobs we work on are high security jobs and having that on their record would obviously keep them out of it.  
  • The more jobs that the state will create for us, the more jobs we can have for people from all walks of life.
  • 38% of the state’s electricity comes from Calvert Cliffs which is a nuclear power plant
  • Maryland ranks #10 with the lowest per capita natural gas use which is a kind of clean energy
  • There is a big issue with the capacity to store energy.  Solar is only available when the sun is out and that is a fact.  
  • The reason that you need coal, nuclear and gas power plants is because wind and solar do not work all the time.  Now, that can be fixed with an investment in the infrastructure.  
  • Today, only about 11% of the state’s total electricity generation comes from renewables.  Maryland increased its Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) to require that 50% of the state’s electricity sales be generated from renewable sources by 2030.  That is a tricky statement.  It says that 50% of electricity sales will be generated by renewables.  As it sits now, Maryland only produces about 50% of the power that it consumes.  
  • State Overview.  Maryland has roughly 6 million people and consumes 61.8 TWh.  Maryland only produces 37.8TWh.  The renewable power generation in Maryland has not developed enough to sustain the closure of all of the coal burning power plants. 
  • Senator Hershey, I believe it was you that asked about the brown outs.  Let me explain to you how brown outs work.  If, at any point, you turn on your AC it creates a demand from the grid.  The grid is fed by power plants from all over the region:  PA, WV, OH, MD.  One person does not create a very large demand, but when 6 million people turn on their ACs it creates a big demand.  One of two things happens:  either you have brown outs where the energy is not clean enough and they turn out the power or when it gets very hot, they intentionally turn off the power to your AC and give you a little bit of a rebate so that they can have the power for the hospitals and the businesses.  Later on that day, they will turn it back on and you save a little bit of money.  They have not done anything to increase the capacity because they turn off the power to the places that they don’t believe need it and usually that is going to be in neighborhoods.  A rolling brown out is the same except they turn it back on in one community and then move it to another.  When you destabilize the grid enough that that doesn’t work anymore, they turn off whole communities.  A black out is a sudden catastrophic shut off.  That could be caused by not having enough power as well.  Not having enough power increases the temperature of the transmission lines that causes them to swell and because they are hung between two poles they sag, hit a tree and cause a blackout.  The point I’m trying to make here is that we are reducing the amount of energy that we take from coal.  Solar and wind CAN help with peak production because when do you want your AC on?  If the sun goes down, the energy is lost.  You have to be able to store it somewhere.  You cannot store AC power in any capacity.  It is used at the point that it is created.  
  • Recap:  We only produce half of the power that we consume.  If we shut down all of our coal burning plants by 2030, that power has to come from somewhere.  If it is coming from PA, any legislation is not going to affect how they create their power.  
  • The investment that needs to be made in solar, wind, biomass, and wood and wood derived fuels is important.  We have to make sure that the jobs that we are losing as the coal burning plants close, are not getting lost to PA because they are still burning coal.  
  • This is a global crisis that we are trying to respond to on a state level.  It needs to be handled on a Federal level and on a global level.
  • Things may change for the better under the Biden administration.  We need to make a massive investment in infrastructure.  
  • Everyone is talking about the young workers that will be affected by the closure of these plants.  What about the 55-year-old worker who has been working in the plant for 30 years and is just a couple of years away from retirement.  What is going to happen to him when the rug is pulled out from under him?
  • The jobs created in the solar industry are much greater than any of the other renewables.  That is because of the small-scale local jobs.
  • This is a change that needs to happen, but it needs to happen on a timeline that makes sense for everyone.
  • I can not express to you enough that this is a generational transforming event.  The jobs we need to create are not the low paying ‘trunk slammer’ jobs.  They are the middle income, head of household, generationally transformative jobs that we need to create.
  • I cannot express to you enough, how important enough it is that this is a generational transformative event.  If somebody gets into a unionized trade job, if they choose to live it becomes a stepping stone for their children to go to college.  That only happens when you have union wages, union benefits and union opportunities.  
  • When you guys make your legislation, you have the power to require that we use geothermal, high efficiency, solar, etc.  It takes about 10 acres to make about 1 MWh of power.  That’s why they all exist out on the Eastern Shore.  
  • If the legislature of the State of Maryland wants to push this forward, we believe in an ‘every possible measure’ moving forward.  We need solar, wind, efficiency, etc.  Solar or wind alone do not fix your problem.
  • Some of the issues that we are talking about today have nothing to do with energy.  We are just piggy backing on energy to create jobs and opportunities for people.  
  • For both solar and wind to become a dominant force in electrical energy consumption:
    • Production must increase
    • Transmission issues must be overcome
    • Storage for use when the solar resource is minimal must be found
    • This will require investment by some entity on a very large scale. I’m afraid that it is only going to be able to be done on a Federal level.
  • What is the problem for the workforce?
    • Top three reasons for reported difficulties from employers in Maryland:
      • Lack of experience, training, or technical skills – experience comes from jobs
      • Competition/Small applicant pool – 
      • Difficulty finding industry-specific knowledge, skills, and interest
  • Legislators need to recognize the monetary value of the labor force and recognize that in any decisions that are made in this arena




Senator Ben Kramer:  How many people will be left without a job if all of the plants close as planned?


Thomas Myers:  If all of them were closed it would be an excess of 500 directly affected.  Then you would have the people that are driving the coal in, truck drivers, the ancillary stuff around it, the cleaning people, the managers.  So, would it be 20,000 people?  No.  Absolutely not.  Will it be 50 people?  No.  The important thing to take away from this is that the direct job loss are head-of-household jobs where they can send their kids to college; where they have good benefits; where they aren’t a burden to the state; and where they have good retirement.


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