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Democrats, Hogan fight over wind and solar energy

Rachel Baye

State lawmakers are gearing up for a fight over a bill requiring the state to generate more electricity from renewable sources.

Gov. Larry Hogan vetoed the bill last spring. He said the increase on ratepayers’ electric bills amounts to a multi-million-dollar tax, a point the Republican executive repeated at a press conference on Tuesday.

“This is actually a sunshine tax,” he said. “It’s charging people every month on their bill to force people to buy expensive solar and wind energy.”

But supporters of the bill countered that message at a press conference Thursday.

At most, ratepayers would likely see electric bills grow by 58 cents per month, said James McGarry, policy director for Maryland and Washington, D.C., at the Chesapeake Climate Action Network. He said bills would gradually increase, reaching that 58-cent mark in 2020, before gradually declining again.

The activists and Democratic lawmakers gathered Thursday in front of the State House also said the legislation would create jobs in the renewable energy industries.

“Right now we have more people harvesting sunshine through the installation of solar panels than we do harvesting crabs in the Chesapeake Bay,” said Del. Bill Frick, a Democrat from Montgomery County. “The solar industry is bigger than the crabbing industry in Maryland.”

Legislative leaders say they expect to override Hogan’s veto in the first month of the new session.

Rachel Baye is a senior reporter and editor in WYPR's newsroom.
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