Maryland Public Service Commission Unanimously Approves Expansion of Community Solar Program Capacity

August 31st, 2021

Community Solar Pilot Program Will Also Expand Access to Low and Moderate Income Customers

Baltimore, MD — During two hearings in late August, the Maryland Public Service Commission unanimously voted to expand the capacity of the state’s community solar program as well as improve access for low and moderate income (LMI) customer participation in the state’s Community Solar Pilot Program. The Commission’s updates will allow community solar to power the equivalent of an additional 6,840 Maryland homes, annually.

“I applaud the work of my colleagues at the Commission to expand the community solar program and ensure everyone in Maryland has equal access to the environmental benefits and cost savings associated with solar energy,” said Delegate Luke Clippinger (Baltimore City). “Community solar is an integral part of Maryland’s clean energy future and has already produced major benefits for residents. We cannot achieve our climate and renewable energy goals without community solar, and this capacity increase and program improvements put us on track to a robust permanent program.”

Community solar projects are small-scale solar installations typically located on farms, brownfields and landfills, or large rooftops. The property owner can earn income by leasing space for the solar panels, and community members can choose to subscribe to the project, earning a credit on their energy bill for their portion of the power produced. Customer savings are guaranteed.

In addition to expanding community solar capacity, the Commission made community solar more accessible for LMI customers, making it easier for them to sign up for project participation and lower their energy bills.

Susan Miller, Senior Attorney for EarthJustice and Counsel for the Low-and-Moderate Income Advocates in Maryland remarked, “Community solar projects make it possible for everyone, especially for low-and moderate-income consumers, to benefit from renewable energy by bringing the clean energy economy to communities that have historically been left behind. Maryland leaders and community solar advocates have been working to level the playing field and make solar energy available to all by bringing more equitable energy choices. We thank the Commission for their due diligence and continued commitment to serve these residents.”

Maryland’s Community Solar Pilot Program will help create capacity to meet the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standards. The Clean Energy Jobs Act passed in 2019 requires half of Maryland’s energy to come from renewable sources by 2030.

“Maryland community solar is generating new clean renewable energy that will help achieve the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standards and Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reductions Act goals,” said Dr. Alfred Bartlett, MD, Board Member, Chesapeake Physicians for Social Responsibility. “These new rules will improve the environment in which Marylanders live and work and will drive climate justice by delivering the economic and public health benefits of clean solar energy to all — not just those who can afford to install solar panels on their own roof.”

The Commission made changes to the annual pilot program that will spur greater economic development from community solar, including aligning program years five and six to get the delayed timeline back on track and create jobs and customer energy savings as quickly as possible, as well as allowing community solar projects to be built on clean-fill construction sites, transforming previously unusable industrial locations into clean solar energy generation sites.

“CHESSA applauds the Commission on their commitment to community solar and their willingness to act,” said Nicole Chiappa, Acting Executive Director of Chesapeake Solar and Storage Association. “We are excited to see the build-up of this program as it continues to benefit Marylanders.”

“CCSA is honored to work alongside a distinguished group of co-petitioners and thanks the Commission for expanding the Community Solar Pilot Program,” said Leslie Elder, Mid-Atlantic Director for Coalition for Community Solar Access. “The increased capacity and many programmatic improvements that have been made by the Commission put consumers first while sending the right market signals to achieve the goals set out by Maryland.  The Commissioners showed strength, fairness, and intellect in their rulings.  We applaud the Commission on their approach and ability to navigate complicated policy and regulatory frameworks.”

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About Coalition for Community Solar Access

The Coalition for Community Solar Access is a national Coalition of businesses and non-profits working to expand customer choice and access to solar for all American households and businesses through community solar. Our mission is to empower every American energy consumer with the option to choose local, clean, and affordable community solar. We work with customers, utilities, local stakeholders, and policymakers to develop and implement policies and best practices that ensure community solar programs provide a win, win, win for all, starting with the customer. For more information, visit https://www.communitysolaraccess.org and follow the group on FacebookTwitter, and LinkedIn.