5 Oct 2010

Clean energy rising – together – in Maryland

Written by Jim Pierobon

While most states struggle to juggle policy initiatives to foster the growth of different sources cleaner energy AND energy efficiency, at least one state is building a model that brings together the shared interests of these sometimes competing sectors: Maryland.

The first-ever Maryland Clean Energy Summit Monday, Oct. 4 in Baltimore demonstrated that how ever strange green bedfellows can be, when they speak with a common voice about over-arching initiatives, they will be heard more clearly by policymakers and stakeholders throughout the Free State and beyond. With the mid-term elections a month away, that is no small achievement. Even better, it is an enviable position for clean energy advocates to have forged since the Center, led by Executive Director Kathy Magruder and Board Chairman Ivan Lanier, was formally launched only 18 months ago.

In Maryland it is especially important this fall for clean energy and efficiency advocates to be speaking with one voice because incumbent Gov. Democrat Martin O’Malley, whose administration has been instrumental in launching the Clean Energy Center — located in Montgomery County, Maryland — faces what looks to be a stiff test on November 4 from the man he defeated for the office in 2006, Republican Robert Erhlich.

At Monday’s Summit, speakers ranged from clean energy financier and developer Ken Locklin to NRG Energy project developer David Davis; to solar renewable energy credit aggregator George Ashton of Sol Systems; to environmental policy chief at Constellation Energy, Paul Allen; to energy efficiency guru William Prindle of ICF International; to GridWise Alliance President Kathy Hamilton; to Elizabeth Porter of Lockheed Martin‘s fledgling energy initiatives. Collectively, these and other speakers articulated measurable common ground while reckoning with the reality that there won’t be a Federal program to reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions anytime soon. (Full disclosure: yours truly moderated one of the Summit’s breakout sessions on behalf of Standard Solar.)

Maryland Clean Energy Center Executive Director, I. Katherine Magruder

What these and other clean energy and efficiency leaders want from Congressional and Maryland legislators, to name just a few, is streamlined Federal permitting, a system to value energy savings as much as clean energy generation, prudent workforce training and re-training incentives and efficient Federal collaboration on integrated technology advancements. “Tagging’ power consumption and storing energy from solar and wind energy systems were among the value-adds that technology providers are trying to bring to market.

Maryland Senator Ben Cardin and Maryland Congressman John Sarbanes were there (and spoke), as did Maryland state Senator Rob Garagiola. Garagiola handed over legislative leadership awards to state Senator Thomas “Mac” Middleton and state Delegate Tawanna Gaines. Accolades aside, will these and other lawmakers — on Capitol Hill and in Annapolis — rise to the challenge and the opportunity in 2011 and 2012?

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