Dear Maryland General Assembly:
We urge you to support legislation that requires the Public Service Commission (PSC) implement a “climate test” during its decision-making process.
The State of Maryland has set goals around reducing greenhouse gas emissions and ramping up clean energy. The PSC is a core part of the state government and the
principal regulator of electricity in Maryland. This key agency must factor climate into its decision-making if the state is to meet the climate goals laid out by the world’s leading scientists and the State of Maryland itself.
Currently, the Maryland Public Service Commission, which approves all large facilities that generate electricity and oversees gas utility companies, does not consider climate in its decision-making process. In 2019, the PSC permitted the retired coal-fired CP Crane facility in Baltimore to repower to gas. In approving the project, the PSC concluded that its governing statute “does not specifically or generally require considerations regarding climate change.”
We believe the PSC should be required to:
* Consider climate change in its regulation of the electricity sector, based upon the best available scientific information recognized by the IPCC and achieving our state climate goals.
* Consider climate impacts when reviewing applications for new electricity generating facilities, and when it approves the sites for new facilities.
* Ensure that state agencies have also considered climate when providing input to the PSC regarding applications for new facilities.
Maryland legislators, at the urging of their constituents, have committed in law to specific targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. House Bill 531 would provide a necessary solution to the PSC’s current limitations on considering climate change. By requiring input from agencies with expertise in long-term planning and evaluating climate change, it creates an effective and straightforward process to bring the PSC in line with the rest of the state’s climate commitments.
For these reasons, we ask you to support SB 656 / HB 531.