Since 2008, University Park Community Solar LLC has attempted to make community solar more feasible for other Marylanders, through the organizing and building of one of the first community solar projects in the nation and through our efforts to provide information and free technical assistance to other local groups. Our years of experience developing the community solar model made us realize both its strengths and shortcomings. As a result, beginning in 2012 and each of the subsequent years, we have been involved in the effort to introduce and pass community renewable energy legislation in the Maryland House of Delegates and the Senate. Each year the primary opposition to that legislation has come from the state utilities, with Exelon/Constellation taking the lead.
We are opposed to the merger of PEPCO and Exelon and in the strongest terms urge rejection of their proposal.
Even though Exelon claims to be supportive of energy efficiency efforts and renewable energy, its actions suggest otherwise. Exelon is a utility with major generating facilities, including many nuclear power plants, and it has opposed renewables; net metering, which credits solar users for the electricity they add to the grid; and virtual net metering, which allows solar power generated at a remote site to be allocated to multiple customers' utility bills.
Indeed, the company continues to oppose net metering by propagating the myth that distributed energy excess production forces non-solar residents to subsidize maintenance of the grid. Measures to promote renewable energy threaten Exelon's business model, which places stockholders' interests before their customers', and profits and sale of electricity before the protection of the environment and the promotion of energy conservation and renewable energy. Constellation/Exelon has opposed efforts in Maryland to pass virtual net metering legislation that would give residents greater opportunities to go solar or allow for community investor wind projects. Maryland has ambitious goals for the production of energy through renewable resources, and we need a utility that supports net metering and other measures that will help us meet those goals.
We see data confirming unprecedented climate change as a call to action and a reason to reject the Exelon merger proposal and its outdated 20th century utility model based on large centralized coal and nuclear power plants, which are the backbone of its electric generating business. Exelon and its shareholders have absolutely no interest or incentive in moving to renewable energy or promoting energy conservation. PEPCO now has no generating activity within its business portfolio and can — and does — shop around for the lowest-cost power, including renewable energy. In contrast, Exelon has a fleet of nuclear-powered and coal-fired plants that will be increasingly costly to maintain and will put current PEPCO customers at risk as these old plants are closed or decommissioned, should this merger be approved.
Maryland does not need to take on the risks of this utility fully committed to a nuclear power technology that, after nearly 70 years, is still without a safe solution for the storage of its ever accumulating radioactive waste by-products.
We also reject Exelon's offer to give small financial benefits to PEPCO customers or home energy assistance payments to low income families, which will have only minimal and short term impacts. What is being offered, for lack of a better description, is chump change. In the case of the low income family, the money Exelon proposes to give actually just goes directly back to its company's coffers.
We believe that Maryland and the District of Columbia need to retain PEPCO as a 21st Century power utility that aggressively reduces demand through a plethora of energy conservation and efficiency programs, and works with residents and local businesses to supply a substantial portion of its service territory's power demand through distributive renewable energy.
We need our electric utilities to cooperate with customers that seek to build distributive electricity projects. Let us all break with the past and begin to live and act in really sustainable ways. We cannot accept Exelon as our future electricity provider because that company does not make energy efficiency or renewable energy key parts of its business plan or operations.
David Brosch is president of University Park Community Solar, LLC. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.