Maryland Should Lift Curtain on Its Renewable Portfolio
Past Reports Cloak Dirty Energy Subsidies and Assessment of Actual Impacts
Washington, DC —The true effectiveness of Maryland’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) has been masked by incomplete reporting, according to a coalition of reform groups led by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). The eight groups are asking the administration of Governor Wes Moore to include much more information in the Public Service Commission’s (PSC) next Annual Report revealing whether the program is working as intended.
Past PSC reports issued under the Hogan administration omitted critical data, including:
- The price of Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) by fuel source, so that ratepayers can tell what value they are getting from their dollars invested in different sources of electricity, such as wind, incineration, and biomass;
- The age of the facilities selling RECs to Maryland energy providers to ascertain whether the state’s RPS is spurring development of new renewable energy or subsidizing older facilities that predate the RPS’s existence; and
- The names of the facilities selling RECs into Maryland, and the number of RECs, so that ratepayers can tell who is profiting by the program. This information was included in prior reports but was removed from the 2022 report.
In addition, the groups are asking that the PSC conduct a compliance check to make sure that RECs sold in Maryland are generated by facilities that meet eligibility requirements, including the environmental standards that waste-to-energy facilities must meet.
“There is substantial evidence that Maryland’s supposedly renewable energy program is in reality subsidizing an array of dirty energy sources,” stated PEER Executive Director Tim Whitehouse, a former senior enforcement attorney with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, noting that between 2008 and 2030, Maryland ratepayers may spend close to a billion dollars subsidizing under the state’s RPS. “It is imperative that both ratepayers and the General Assembly have a clear idea of how this program operates.”
“We won’t meet our renewable energy goals through the RPS in actual reality if some of our ‘renewable energy’ is out of compliance, polluting both our communities and the climate,” said Jennifer Kunze, Maryland Coordinator at Clean Water Action. “Communities in Maryland that are impacted by trash incinerators and that might be impacted in the future by new biogas and biomass facilities deserve to have access to information about programs that might be supporting these industries. The PSC must ensure that Maryland’s RPS is meeting existing statute, and make critical data publicly available so the legislature can consider what further improvements to statute must be made.”
“The way Maryland’s PSC operates the RPS program and the elaborate RECs lacks transparency and accountability”, said Jorge Aguilar, the Southern Region Director at Food & Water Watch. “Ultimately, it is Maryland families that are paying millions into a renewable program that props up dirty energy and hides the truth behind a convoluted and muddled maze.
“The construction of biogas facilities is extremely costly, and they are generally not profitable without subsidies, incentives, and continuous waste streams,” said Gabby Ross, founder of Concerned Citizens Against Industrial CAFOs. “Communities impacted by this industry deserve to know what role Maryland’s Renewable Portfolio Standard is playing in incentivizing these facilities to come to Maryland.”
The letter was signed by: Tim Whitehouse, Executive Director of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility; Jennifer Kunze, Maryland Coordinator of Clean Water Action; Sonia Demiray, Co-founder of the Climate Communications Coalition; Jorge Aguilar, Southern Region Director of Food & Water Watch; Laurel Peltier, Chair of the Maryland Energy Advocates Coalition; Annie Bristow, Convener of the Mountain Maryland Movement; Gabby Ross, Founder of Concerned Citizens Against Industrial CAFOs; and Shashawnda Campbell, Environmental Justice Coordinator of South Baltimore Community Land Trust.
The next PSC annual report to the General Assembly is due this December.