For too long, solar energy has primarily been available to Maryland residents who live in single-family homes with maximum sun exposure who can afford to pay for the installation of solar panels on their sloped roofs. Thanks to two bills passed by the Maryland General Assembly with bipartisan support, we are one step closer to removing the barriers that have prevented all Marylanders from having access to local, green energy.
As evidenced by the support for these bills by both parties and Gov. Larry Hogan, this legislation is a win-win for Maryland. The legislation will expand solar energy, create local jobs, allow renters and lower income citizens to participate in a solar program and it puts Maryland on the solar energy map by becoming the 11th state in the U.S. with community solar access ("Solar jobs growing rapidly in Maryland," Feb. 12).
Hundreds of thousands of Marylanders do not have access to solar energy. Some live in neighborhoods that do not receive the sunlight necessary to collect solar power. More live in apartments or row houses in urban areas like Baltimore where flat roofs are the norm. And even more rent apartments or homes and cannot make changes to their homes like adding solar panels because they are not the property owners.
Earlier this year, the General Assembly passed legislation that once signed by Governor Hogan, will create community solar projects throughout the state. These community solar projects will allow Maryland residential energy customers who are unable to install solar panels on their property to have a choice when it comes to their energy needs.
The legislation will let Maryland residents invest in these community solar projects then offset a portion of their electric bill from the energy generated. The solar projects would be located throughout the community either on the roof of a building, at a church or in an open space and would not require any changes to the home of a resident who wishes to participate in the community solar projects.
I applaud the General Assembly for taking this important step of giving Marylanders another choice when it comes to their energy needs by providing affordable access to local solar energy and I look forward to Governor Hogan signing this legislation.
Mike Healy, Washington, D.C.
The writer is director of public policy for Nextility.