Maryland Establishes Task Force on Renewable Energy Development and Siting
Maryland’s Governor Lawrence Hogan has issued an Executive Order establishing a task force responsible for evaluating the siting of new solar and wind energy projects throughout Maryland. Gov. Hogan’s actions were prompted by the recently-enacted Maryland Clean Energy Jobs Act, and his concerns surrounding the implementation of that legislation. The Task Force on Renewable Energy Development and Siting (“the Task Force”) will be composed of representatives from key state agencies, the local agricultural community, and the solar and wind energy industries.
The Executive Order aims to address conflicts that increasingly arise when large-scale renewable energy projects are slated for agricultural and/or rural areas. As the Executive Order states, “[u]nwise siting of renewable energy projects could jeopardize Maryland’s farms, forests, waterways, and wetlands.”
The Task Force must study and develop consensus-based recommendations for “accelerating the siting of clean and renewable energy projects” on pre-developed commercial, industrial and public land while minimizing the impact of such projects on “agriculturally or ecologically important, sensitive, or valuable areas . . . .” Pre-developed commercial, industrial and public land includes but is not limited to brownfields, closed mines, landfills, parking lots, rights-of-ways, and rooftops.
When submitting its recommendations, the Task Force must also provide “detailed proposals” outlining mechanisms for the State to evaluate, review and approve solar and wind energy projects in an expedited and streamlined manner. The Task Force must also identify specific changes to State Law, policies, procedures, regulations, resources, and tool that would incentivize “responsible renewable energy development and siting.”
The Executive Order requires the Task Force to hold open, publicly accessible meetings “at such times and places as it deems appropriate and necessary.” Interested parties such as renewable energy companies, manufacturers, trade organizations, and members of the agricultural community should prepare to participate in these meetings.
The Task Force must submit its preliminary recommendations to the Governor by December 1, 2019, and its final recommendations by August 14, 2020.