The Maryland Chapter of the Sierra Club supports increasing the amount of clean renewable energy used in Maryland as an alternative to burning coal, other fossil fuels, and other products for electrical energy generation.
For the 2014 legislative session, we support HB 1149/SB 733 to increase the Renwable Portfolio Standard from 20% to 40%.
A recent MIT study (1) showed that electrical energy generation causes 52,000 premature deaths, as well as disease, in the United States. The mid-Atlantic region is the epicenter of this harm. Baltimore has the highest emissions-related mortality rate in the nation, with 130 out of every 100,000 residents likely to die prematurely in a given year due to long-term exposure to air pollution. Clean renewable energy, such as wind and solar, does not have these harmful emissions.
Forty percent clean energy in Maryland will mean more jobs for Marylanders and less climate pollution –- like taking 1.4 million cars off of the road. Other jurisdictions plan to get to 40%, Hawaii (2) by 2030 and Maine (3) by 2017. Denmark gets 20% of its energy from off-shore wind now and plans to raise that to 50% by 2020 (4).
The equation for RPS is simply renewable energy used divided by total energy used. We need to increase the RPS by lowering the denominator of total energy used.
- We can increase EmPOWER savings from 15% to 30%, using innovative technologies to stop wasting energy. A 2009 McKinsey study (5) showed that business-wise investments (even without incentives) would lower energy use by 23% by 2020.
- With LED lighting and other technologies that have come about since the McKinsey report was issued in 2009, we can do even better. Los Angeles reduced its street lighting energy use by 63.1% by switching to LED technology (6).
Maryland also has enormous potential for clean renewable energy.
- Maryland’s offshore wind resources are vast as shown by National Renewable Energy. The Atlantic seabed off Maryland's coast is relatively shallow, thus being more accommodating to wind and solar resources. The initial wind resources authorized for development by the Off Shore Wind Act of 2013 will only begin to tap this clean renewable energy source.
- Solar energy costs continue to plummet as solar energy installations increase. Prices have decreased by 80% since 2008. Adopting community-based clean energy per HB 1192/SB 786 this year would greatly expand our use of this clean and abundant resource.
- These clean renewable energy sources would be available around the clock through existing and emerging energy storage technologies, such as ice thermal storage (7), flow batteries (8), compressed air storage, and liquid metal batteries (9).