The EmPOWER Maryland energy efficiency program, which will save residents and businesses $4 billion while creating 68,000 jobs, was extended through 2023 this week, thanks to action through the state legislature. The news was heralded by environmental and sustainability advocates.
The Democrat-led Maryland General Assembly passed SB 185 and HB 514 with veto-proof majorities extending EmPOWER, which was originally implemented in 2008. Gov. Larry Hogan (R) chose not to sign the bill into law. He had proposed another piece of legislation for renewable energy jobs earlier this year, but the legislature passed a different, more effective bill into law that Hogan had vetoed in 2016.
“Extending EmPOWER Maryland is a big win for Maryland ratepayers and businesses,” said Brendon Baatz, utilities policy manager at the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE). “EmPOWER Maryland means more electricity savings for consumers, reduced operating costs for employers, and increased jobs across the state.”
“Since the programs began in 2009, EmPOWER Maryland has grown from a modest energy efficiency program to become an award-winning, nationwide model for how to make an impact with energy efficiency,” wrote Deron Lovaas, senior policy advisor on urban solutions for National Resources Defense Council (NRDC). “Maryland has consistently been named among the top ten states for energy efficiency for the last six years,” he added.
“The original mandate was a 15 percent reduction in electricity sales by 2015. Then in 2015…the PSC built on that successful foundation by requiring a ramp up to a regular electricity savings clip of 2 percent per year. Utilities and DHCD developed and executed new plans accordingly.” Lovaas attributed the success of the extension to Maryland’s utilities, the Public Service Commission, the Maryland Energy Administration, DHCD, the Office of People’s Counsel, and contractors and small businesses, among others.
The energy efficiency measures installed throughout the state, thanks to the EmPOWER program have generated $1.81 in benefits for $1.00 invested in energy efficiency measures—nearly doubling the payback, according ACEEE. It’s also create $3.75 billion in new gross domestic product in the state.
“We now shift our focus to Maryland’s Public Service Commission, which must approve energy efficiency plans from Maryland’s five largest utilities in September,” Baatz said. The will work to ensure that the goals of the legislation are achieved.Tweet