In April, 2021, the Maryland General Assembly passed House Bill 768—Montgomery County Community Choice Energy Pilot Program, that will give Montgomery County the authority to implement an opt-out Community Choice Energy program.
In March, 2020, the Maryland House of Delegates passed HB 561 that requires state agencies to draft rules allowing local communities to negotiate directly with energy utilities to set strong renewable energy goals and lower electricity rates. The COVID pandemic forced the General Assembly to end its session early.
Maryland lawmakers passed HB 768 in April, 2021, that will allow a community choice energy pilot program in Montgomery County in the 2021 legislative session. As stipulated in the bill, the County may not establish the pilot program earlier than April 2023. Over the next two years, the County plans to develop an implementation plan and also will participate in a Public Service Commission workgroup that will develop the regulatory framework for the pilot.
The County Council also must pass local authorizing legislation for the CCA and the County will conduct extensive outreach during development to ensure the community is aware of the program's values and that special attention is given to the needs to vulnerable communities.
A working group comprised of county staff, retail suppliers, climate action groups, apartment and
building associations and consultants has been set up to draft legislation and develop regulations
that would govern the program. With many varied viewpoints and priorities at the table, it has
been a challenging process, but they are making progress. Consultants involved with the
program launch are assisting with regulation development, educating elected officials, power mix
options and pricing.
A few challenges:
Montgomery County is served by 3 different utilities who serve portions of the county, and also serve outside the county. What are the implications for the customers outside of the county?
A County law will need to be passed to establish a CCA, however under state law, municipalities within a county can opt in our out of county laws, with exception of taxation and public health. Will enough municipalities opt in to keep the CCA viable?
Once the County law is established, the PUC will need to review and approve
Apartment and building associations have their own aggregation programs on behalf of their residents, what will happen to their programs?
RENEWABLES PORTFOLIO STANDARD
Maryland updated its renewable portfolio standard (SB 516) in 2019, requiring 50% of electricity sales in the state to come from renewable sources by 2030. The renewable portfolio standard also includes a solar carveout of at least 14.5% by 2030, and at least 1,200 MW of offshore wind by 2030. Tier 1 renewable sources include solar, wind, qualifying biomass, geothermal, energy from ocean waves, tides and currents, small hydroelectric power plants, to name a few.
LEGISLATION (PARTIAL LIST)
Cities are banding together to buy renewables at scale. September 2, 2021, GreenBiz
Maryland's First Community Choice Energy Legislation Becomes Law. June 1, 2021, Food and Water Watch
Maryland General Assembly Passes Community Choice Energy Pilot Program Enabling Montgomery County Residents More Affordable and Equitable Access to Renewable Energy. April 15, 2021, Montgomery County, MD press release
Tom Hucker: Allow Maryland Communities to Expand Clean Power. February 16, 2021, Maryland Matters
CCA-Enabling Legislation: HB 768
State of Maryland Office of People's Counsel Testimony: HB 768 Endorsement. March 23, 2021
INVESTOR OWNED UTILITIES
Baltimore Gas and Electric (BGE)
Potomac Electric Power Company (PEPCO)
Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative, Inc. (SMECO)
HB 561, March 2020 - Electric Industry - Community Choice Energy - Pilot Program. Died in committee
HB 768, April 2021 - Montgomery County - Community Choice Energy - Pilot Program. Enacted.
Page last updated 5.30.2023