As a lifelong Marylander, I'm proud of the progress that our state has made through successful, bi-partisan initiatives supporting renewable and efficient energy throughout the state. As such, I was concerned when I read a letter published in the Sun on Jan. 26 ("Maryland bucks the trend on solar energy"). The author, an environmental stakeholder, mentioned that she was embarrassed that Maryland hasn't taken enough steps to support solar energy. Unfortunately, she misses a significant portion of the statistical narrative.
In the past eight years, the state's solar capacity has gone from less than 0.1 MW to more than 225 MW by the end of 2014. At this rate, we expect to meet our goal of providing 2 percent of our electricity from in-state solar by 2020. The industry currently provides over 3,000 well-paying jobs to Marylanders across the state and is a true bright spot in our local economy.
I admit that we have a long way to go and work to do, but to claim that Maryland is lagging behind other states is not an accurate description — and the experts agree. Environment America's August 2014 report entitled "Lighting the Way — The Top Ten States that Helped Drive America's Solar Energy Boom in 2013" ranked Maryland No. 12 in cumulative solar capacity per capita in 2013. This refutes the author's contention that Maryland is behind the curve, especially when you consider the solar resources in some of the states ranked above Maryland: Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida and Hawaii.
There are many factors that influence a state's renewable energy markets, (cost of energy from the utility, solar irradiance, etc.), but I recommend taking a balanced approach to evaluating our policies. The state's leadership is proven by the data, and to continue in that vein we must strike the right balance of policies and technologies to empower Marylanders and keep energy affordable.
The writer is an energy policy program manager at the Maryland Energy Administration.