MAREC Action’s Objectives
Grow solar, wind and battery storage.
Provide education on renewable technology and energy markets.
Work with state regulators to develop rules and supportive renewable energy policies.
Promote improvement to electric transmission infrastructure to facilitate renewable energy development.
Provide technical expertise and education on integrating renewable energy resources in the electric grid.
MAREC Action’s Policy
MAREC believes that policymakers should be moving forward decisively to facilitate the growth of wind and solar energy and other renewable energy technologies to promote a more sustainable environment, develop greater energy security through fuel diversification, and facilitate economic development in the region. The following is a description of some of the critical issues facing the industry and key regional policymakers.
Renewable Portfolio Standards/Renewable Energy Standards
Today, 29 states and Washington, D.C. have renewable electricity standards, and eight states have renewable energy goals. Please refer to the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency for the current map of state-specific renewable portfolio standards (RPS) policies. A number of states in the Mid-Atlantic region have taken it upon themselves to act to provide leadership in the drive to develop renewable energy technologies. These states have enacted market based mechanisms called RPS or renewable energy standards (RES), which are designed to ensure that a percentage of electricity sales come from renewable energy technologies.
MAREC Action believes that an aggressive national RPS would lead to consistency and greater development of wind and other green technologies. While MAREC Action states have a variety of RPS or RES programs with varying standards, we believe that enhancements to these programs, such as provisions for long-term contracting, are necessary in light of the lack of a national RPS program and to promote local and regional investments in renewable energy systems.
Long Term Contracts
There are several ways an electric supplier can meet a state’s RPS. One of the best avenues is to have the electric utility enter into a long-term contract, often called a purchase power agreement (PPA), with a wind developer. Not only does a PPA provide long-term price certainty to the supplier and its customers, but a PPA also makes projects viable for the developer by allowing the developer much greater access to financing. Financial institutions and investors are much more likely to provide funding to a project with a long-term revenue stream from a reliable counter-party like an investor-owned utility. It is also important to note that the wind developer bears the risk of the project and not the utility’s customers, because the developer assumes the risk in the event there are cost overruns for the project and the customer is not obligated to pay any contracted costs of the project until the facility is generating electricity.
At this point in time, some states offer limited opportunities through RPS requirements and regulatory policies for long-term contracting. MAREC Action will work with government officials and electric suppliers to promote policies that will facilitate long-term contracts for electricity from wind generators. These policies could take the form of allowing for prudent cost recovery for electric utilities that enter into qualifying PPAs and legislation designed to require competitive RFPs for long-term wind or other renewable energy procurement.
One of the biggest constraints on U.S. renewable energy growth is the capacity of the transmission grid to deliver low-cost clean energy to customers. Studies have shown that it is reasonable to reliably integrate large amounts of solar and wind energy generation into the current electric transmission system in the U.S. However, to do this there needs to be a substantial increase of new high voltage electric transmission line development. Wind and solar generation is often developed in more remote areas and transmission lines are necessary to bring the electricity generated from those facilities to areas that are more heavily populated. Integrating these variable, but predictable, resources into the electric grid can benefit consumers through effective planning.
MAREC Action works with the regional grid operator (PJM Interconnection) and transmission owners to ensure that fair policies exist to integrate solar and wind into the transmission system and policies are in place to encourage reasonable transmission growth and siting of transmission lines to facilitate renewable energy development.
MAREC Action promotes responsible siting of solar and wind projects. Responsible siting includes conducting studies to determine the suitability for a site from both environmental and wildlife standpoints. In addition, proximity to homes is a very important consideration and observance with industry standards and governmental requirements with regard to setbacks from residential development is essential to minimize any real or perceived impacts a project may have. Consequently, MAREC Action believes it is important to solicit and gain as much community support and acceptance as possible for wind and solar projects. MAREC Action works with community leaders and the public to share information in support of this objective.
Energy Policy & Issues
Delaware passed SB33 in 2021, raising the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) to 40 percent by 2035.
District of Columbia
The District of Columbia’s City Council established a 100% Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS), including cost-saving requirements for long-term renewable energy purchase agreements, through the CleanEnergy DC Omnibus Amendment Act of 2018.
Solar development has picked up over the last few years with strong demand from corporate customers. As of 2022, projects with a combined capacity of over 3,300 MW are currently under consideration or have been approved by the Kentucky Siting Board.
Maryland’s Clean Energy Jobs Act of 2019 (CEJA) set a renewable energy target of 50% by 2030 and created a path to help Maryland reach 100 percent renewable energy by 2040. CEJA also requires Maryland to procure at least 1,200 megawatts of offshore wind capacity. The Climate Solutions Now Act, passed in 2022, set a statewide goal of a 60% reduction below 2006 emissions by 2031 and a requirement to reach net-zero by 2045.
The Clean Energy Act of 2018 established a Renewable Portfolio Standard calling for 50% renewable energy by 2030, including 3,500 MW of offshore wind. In 2019, Governor Murphy further extended this goal to 7,500 MW of offshore wind with Executive Order 92.
Session Law 2007-397 (Senate Bill 3), signed into law during 2007, established the Renewable and Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard requiring investor-owned utilities in North Carolina to meet up to 12.5% of their energy needs through renewable energy resources or energy efficiency measures by 2021. In 2012, Governor Cooper’s Executive Order 80 called for the development of a Clean Energy Plan.
Ohio first implemented its Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) in 2008, and the policy has undergone significant changes in recent years. In 2019, House Bill 6 reduced the 2026 benchmark for the RPS from 12.5% to 8.5%, while eliminating the RPS’s “solar carve-out” in 2020. It also cut off the RPS as of the end of 2026 by eliminating any maintenance of the standard for “every year thereafter.” Ohio is one of only two states (along with West Virginia) to repeal or roll back its RPS policy.
Pennsylvania recently achieved the goals of its Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards Act (AEPS). Initially passed in 2004, the AEPS requires that electric distribution companies and electric generation suppliers meet a 8% benchmark for Tier I energy resources, which includes a 0.5% solar requirement, and a 10% benchmark for Tier II resources by 2021 for all the electricity that they sell to Pennsylvania customers. Continued policy support, in the form of an AEPS or other measures, is necessary to keep the Keystone State’s renewable energy industry growing.
The 2020 Virginia Clean Economy Act (VCEA) established a number of ambitious goals including requiring the state’s two largest utilities, Dominion Energy Virginia and Appalachian Power, to be 100 percent carbon-free by 2045 and 2050 respectively. The VCEA also establishes that 5,200 megawatts of offshore wind and 16,100 megawatts of solar and onshore wind is “in the public interest.” Additionally, Virginia’s largest energy companies must also construct or acquire more than 3,100 megawatts of energy storage capacity.
With a robust existing wind industry and the state’s first utility-scale solar projects under development, West Virginia is well positioned to diversify and strengthen its energy sector in the 21st Century.