Advertisement

Clean Energy Jobs Act is just the first step Gov. Hogan needs to take on climate

Dominion Energy's newest solar farm located on Route 14 in Gloucester became operational on April 22, 2019. The solar farm has 80,724 panels across 203 acres of land, which will produce enough electricity to power approximately 5,000 homes at peak output. Dominion Energy and Facebook are teaming up to continue their joint effort to substantially increase renewable energy by creating these new solar facilities.

Gov. Larry Hogan should sign the Clean Energy Jobs Act and establish his legacy as an environmental leader and pragmatic conservative (“Governor Hogan, allow clean energy bill to become Maryland law,” May 16). Furthering Maryland’s history of supporting renewable power, this April both legislative chambers voted with veto-proof majorities to mandate that 50 percent of our electricity come from renewable sources by 2030.

The Clean Energy Jobs Act uses a Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) approach to create a market for renewable energy. It may not be perfect, but it is much improved over the version Governor Hogan previously vetoed. While the Clean Energy Jobs Act will be a job-generating and carbon reducing piece of legislation, it is not enough on its own to make a meaningful dent in carbon emissions. Last year, carbon emissions went up 3 percent in America; they need to go down 3 percent every year over the next few decades to limit the damage from climate change across Maryland. The governor should sign the bill and position Maryland to advance the next step: a carbon pricing system that will use private markets to create the lowest cost path to reduce carbon emission in the electric power, transportation and agriculture sectors.

Advertisement

A system that puts a price on carbon and puts money back in consumers’ wallets will unleash the power of the markets. A carbon tax and dividend plan is a technology neutral, free-market approach to reducing carbon in all segments of the economy required to mitigate climate change. This is a conservative idea, not a liberal, big-government plan. Governor Hogan can use his signature of the Clean Energy Jobs Act as a platform to move toward a carbon tax and dividend plan and move Maryland to net-zero carbon emissions from the power sector by 2040.

My Maryland-based firm’s successes demonstrate the private sector’s ability and willingness to invest capital and create jobs to profitably reduce carbon emissions. In 2018, we invested over $1 billion in assets that create jobs, reduce carbon and help communities adapt to climate change. But not much of that investment was in Maryland. Other states are beating Maryland in the clean energy economy. Business leaders need the governor to lead, not sit still. By signing the Clean Energy Jobs Act, Governor Hogan will signal his willingness to be a champion for the environment and the economy.

Jeffrey Eckel, Annapolis

The writer is chairman, president and CEO of Hannon Armstrong.

Advertisement
Advertisement