Keeping the state on track for ambitious targets set by the Renewable Portfolio Standard – or RPS – legislation is powering the installations and enhancing the incentives behind Maryland solar systems. The RPS set outs target requirements for renewable energy production, with an original goal of 2.0% solar by 2022.
Recent legislative adjustments such as House Bill 1187 and Senate Bill 791 have further prioritized solar energy through measures that advocates insist will see the 2.0% target reached two years earlier, in 2020. This has paved the way for a dynamic solar marketplace with competitive pricing and other financial benefits resulting from increased demand.
Although the overall goal of 2.0% hasn’t changed, the new measures set out in these companion bills mean that year-over-year solar energy production must increase in line with a 2020 target. Increased demand in Maryland solar panels means better deals for home owners looking to cash in on renewable incentives as energy companies vie to offer competitive deals. These competitive deals enhance several incentives already provided by federal, state and local governments, including:
- Clean Energy Production Tax Credit, allowing homeowners to claim a credit on their state income tax
- Sales and Use Tax Exemption for Renewable Energy Equipment, exempting solar energy equipment from sales and use tax
- Sales and Use Tax Exemption for Residential Solar and Wind Electricity Sales, exempting solar energy produced from sales and use tax
- Residential Clean Energy Grant Program, offering homeowners up to $1,000 towards photovoltaic installation
Additionally, targets set out in the RPS are measured in Solar Renewable Energy Credits, with 1,000 Kwh of solar energy produced equal to 1 credit. HB1187 and SB791 created a demand for an additional 34,150 SRECs in 2013 alone, while recent research shows that the national average cost of a photovoltaic system has fallen by 9% each year. The figures for Maryland solar panels are far more impressive, with a 24% decrease in installation costs for both residential and commercial systems in 2013.
Maryland is no stranger when it comes to pioneering innovative energy solutions, boasting installations such as Mount St. Mary’s University Solar Farm, which alone provides enough energy for 1,400 homes. The requirement for an additional 34,150 SRECs in 2013 equated to an additional 28.5 MW, a target easily met by legislation that ensured an additional 29 MW worth of solar installations that same year. There are now 133 solar energy companies in Maryland, employing 2,000 people and providing enough solar energy to power 17,700 homes.
With legislation designed to create a dynamic market and a state more than ready to embrace the solar shift towards more reliable, cost efficient and sustainable energy the many inherent benefits of solar power shine even brighter. Installation costs are mitigated by long term savings that can easily add up to tens of thousands of dollars per home, and have decreased as part of broader strategies implemented by the Department of Energy to lower barriers and foster growth.