Coach Dave’s Playbook

Hey all! This month I’ve been tracking a couple of policy and regulatory activities regarding renewable energy in the region. I’ll provide a quick briefing here; feel free to reach out with any questions or for more information.

  1. First, some news out of Maryland. Last year, we saw lawmakers in the Maryland Senate vote to expand the state's renewable energy target to 25% by 2020, overriding an earlier veto of the measure by the Governor. On September 13, 2017, The Baltimore Sun featured an article about the Maryland Clean Energy Jobs Initiative, which is calling for Maryland to source 50 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030 as a means of creating green jobs and promoting environmental justice. Our friends at Chesapeake Climate Action Network (CCAN) have done great work advocating for increasingly aggressive clean energy targets in Maryland—and achieving results—over the years, and we’re excited to hear about this latest campaign. We endorse communities of color calling for clean energy development as a driver of economic empowerment, and we plan to lend our voice and support to this initiative.

    Meanwhile, the first year of Maryland’s statewide community solar pilot program is underway, and project developers and subscriber organizations are working to ensure projects are operations within one year (you can track the current list of projects in the queue for Pepco here and for BGE here).

  2. We’re also keeping an eye on community solar activity in Virginia. Virginia Senate Bill (SB) 1393, enacted in May 2017, directed Dominion Energy to create a community solar pilot program. Dominion is the largest electric utility in Virginia, providing about two-thirds of the power sold in the Commonwealth. Dominion just released a Request for Proposals seeking bids for 10 MW of new solar generation for the Community Solar Pilot Program.[2] More solar on the grid is a good thing, and Dominion has added quite a bit recently—the company now has 27 solar facilities totaling 444 MW in operation or under construction in Virginia, up from four projects and 1 MW just two years ago.[3] There are a number of ways in which community solar can work, however (see this helpful overview from the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory). Some models are more open, inclusive, and community-minded than others. I’d like to see Virginia commit to a community solar program that expands access for underserved communities, entails options for community ownership of solar systems, and demonstrates that community solar can truly be a community resource, not just a PR tool.

  3. Finally, our thoughts are with the millions of folks and families adversely impacted by hurricanes over the past several weeks. With increasingly strong storms fueled by a changing climate, utility power outages are likely to become more frequent and to last longer. One of the emerging opportunities we see is for solar systems to be paired with battery storage systems, to provide a community solar host site (such as a community center, church, or school) with a reserve of backup power to maintain critical building functions. Given this capability, the host facility can act as a place of shelter, helping community members weather a storm and its aftermath. I’ll dive into this concept, commonly referred to as “resiliency,” in a future posting.