May 27, 2015

Maryland Governor Signs Community Solar Bill

Maryland is looking to increase their solar presence with a new bill that will allow construction of community solar projects through a three-year pilot program. The bill -- House Bill (HB) 1087 -- was signed by Gov. Hogan this week.

HB 1087 requires the community solar projects to be regulated under the Public Service Commission (PSC), who will also provide the structure of the program -- which includes generation of electricity and allocation of costs to subscribers.

"This pilot program is a key component to our industry's goal of increasing access to solar energy," said Rick Peters, Maryland-DC-Virginia Solar Energy Industries Association (MDV-SEIA) board president and CEO of Solar Energy Services. "In an increasingly bipartisan fashion, Maryland legislators continue to lead on renewable energy policy -- creating jobs and opportunity for Marylanders."

The PSC will also determine virtual net metering rates for customers signed up for the solar communities. According to MDV-SEIA, the PSC net metering working group will be a key to the implementation of the bill. Dana Sleeper, executive director for MDV-SEIA, told FierceEnergy they will also be a part of the process to implement the bill -- along with numerous other organizations and utilities.

"Potomac Edison looks forward to participating in the regulatory process that will define how the law is implemented," a spokesperson for the utility toldFierceEnergy. "We will be part of the stakeholder work group that studies the issues over the next few months."

After the pilot program is complete, utilities and subscriber organizations who participated in the pilot may continue their community solar programs -- as long as they stay within the 1,500 MW limit for net metering projects.

Dave O'Leary, chapter conservation chair with the Maryland Chapter of the Sierra Club, explained, "It is hard to predict how much additional solar will be constructed as a result of this new law, but as the solar carveout requirement in the state's Renewable Portfolio Standard continues to increase, I hope that a significant portion will be met of the obligation will be met through community solar systems."

The law will go into effect on July 1, 2015. The PSC will report on their findings of the pilot program to the Senate Finance Committee and the House Economic Matters Committee by July 1, 2019.


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