Maryland State Senator Pam Beidle urges other elected officials to support Community Choice Energy.
Annapolis, MD -- Today, Maryland Delegate Lorig Charkoudian and Senator Pam Beidle joined with community activists and energy experts to announce their groundbreaking Community Choice Energy legislation (SB 315, HB 561). This legislation gives Maryland communities local control over their own energy supplies, enabling them to opt into clean, renewable energy and negotiate lower bills for ratepayers.
"I am thrilled to be introducing the Community Choice Energy Act,” said Delegate Lorig Charkoudian. “This enabling legislation creates a tool for local government to fight climate change and protect rate-payers. In the 8 states that currently enable CCE's, we see local governments able to increase renewable energy and use bulk purchasing to lower rates for consumers."
If passed, the legislation would allow, but not mandate, Maryland’s municipalities and counties to pass ordinances to establish their own Community Choice Energy programs. The details of the programs would be determined by the local, democratically elected government that establishes it.
"Marylanders deserve more local control over our energy, more clean and renewable power, and more affordable rates," said Senator Pam Beidle. "The Community Choice Energy bill helps to achieve all of these. Giving our counties and municipalities the ability to create their own Community Choice programs will greatly benefit Marylanders, and I encourage my Senate colleagues to support the passage of this bill."
“House Bill 561 and Senate Bill 315 give local governments an important tool as we work toward eliminating greenhouse gas emissions and the Community Choice Energy (“CCE”),” said Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich. “Even though House Bill 561 does not require us to implement a CCE, it does give us the option to implement a program that allows our community to better control fuel sources; and that is significant. This bill will equip us with the tools we need to purchase and generate clean energy for residents and businesses, while potentially lowering rates for consumers. Enacting this bill is a win for the government and consumers.”
Community Choice Energy works in partnership with the incumbent investor-owned utility, which would continue to provide power delivery, grid maintenance, certain customer programs, and consolidated customer billing.
“We are in a climate crisis - and we need to move to 100% clean energy as quickly as possible, said Lily Hawkins, Maryland Organizer, Food & Water Watch. “We need to make the transition in a way that is fair for all Marylanders. Community Choice Energy will allow communities to move to renewable energy while saving money without having to wait for change at the federal level, or for Maryland to improve the renewable portfolio standard.”
With Community Choice Energy programs, no municipality or county would be able to purchase less renewable energy than the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard requires. If enacted in a municipality or county, residents would be able to opt out of the program and continue with the utility, or a third party supplier. Customers may even be able to “opt-up” through their Community Choice program, paying slightly higher rates -- if they choose -- to get a greater percentage of renewable energy than the CCE program.
“Energy justice is a top priority for the NAACP and we support Community Choice Energy because it’s the truest manifestation of energy democracy,” said Reverend Kobi Little, Political Action Chair of the NAACP Maryland State Conference. “Community Choice Energy gives access to renewable energy to low income communities who wouldn’t otherwise have the option to say we don’t want to pollute our environment. It’s a pathway to responsible energy policy and decision making.”
This is a pathway to responsible energy policy and decision making.
“Local governments are elected to serve their community,” said Michael Sanderson, Executive Director, Maryland Association of Counties. “If we can help our residents sift through this complex market to get them a chance for a better deal, or advance environmental goals, we should have that option.”
Community Choice Energy can provide significant local and regional economic development benefits, including the opportunity to develop local power resources, and implement a wide variety of local energy programs tailored to the needs of a community.
"Community Choice Energy can play a vital role in helping Maryland address the climate crisis,” said Steven Hershkowitz, Maryland Director, Chesapeake Climate Action Network. “Empowering counties and municipalities to take electricity generation into their own hands will accelerate the state's progress in reaching 100% clean electricity. We have just a decade to reduce our greenhouse gas pollution by 60% -- we need every tool available to save a livable climate for future generations."
There are currently eight states that have authorized Community Choice Energy programs: California, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island, and Virginia. These programs currently serve millions of customers around the country, and consistently exceed utility performance in the areas of electric rates, renewable content and greenhouse gas reductions.
“Households who sign up for third party electricity supply in Maryland’s deregulated market have, over the last few years, paid hundreds of millions of dollars more in utility bills compared to the regulated price,” said Dr. Arjun Makhijani, President, Institute for Energy and Environmental Research. “This has hit low-income households especially hard. Community Choice Aggregation would allow cities and counties to contract for electricity in bulk and give households access to the same economic benefits that so far have accrued mainly to large businesses in Maryland.”