Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley Signs Landmark Geo RPS Legislation

Governor Martin O’Malley (D) signed the Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard – Geothermal Heating and Cooling bill (SB 652) into law, making Maryland the first state in the nation to allow utilities to claim credits for the installation of geothermal heat pumps (GHPs). The measure passed the state legislature on April 13.

The law makes GHPs an accepted technology for utilities to use toward earning Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) under the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS). After the measure was signed, GEO President Doug Dougherty said, “We applaud Governor O’Malley, the Maryland Energy Administration, the Maryland Public Utility Commission and the state legislature for their collective vision in recognizing that geothermal heat pumps are a renewable source of energy with the new GHP law.”

Among many industry and agency stakeholders, the Geothermal Exchange Organization (GEO) lent support and written testimony that were crucial to the success of the measure. The Maryland GHP legislation is the first of its kind in the United States.

The Maryland RPS stipulates that electricity suppliers (utilities and competitive retail suppliers) use renewable sources of energy like wind, solar and biomass to generate a portion of their retail sales, in annual percentage increments to a level of 20% by the year 2022. Electricity suppliers demonstrate compliance with the RPS by accumulating RECs, which are issued by the state according to the renewable power they provide to their ratepayers. With the new law, GHPs offer yet another option for utilities to meet their renewable energy purchase requirements and earn RECs under the state’s RPS mandate.

Maryland and regional government and industry stakeholders are now forming the Mid-Atlantic Geothermal Industry Consortium (MAGIC) to educate surrounding states about the value of GHPs a compliance measure for their renewable energy purchase requirements. “And GEO will use the Maryland GHP law as a model for the nearly 40 other states that have mandated Renewable Portfolio Standards,” said Dougherty. More information about SB 652 can be found in an Air Conditioning, Refrigeration and Heating NEWS feature article, here.