Friday, April 8, 2011

Renewable Heat Bill Stalls in Maryland

“The Renewable Energy Act for All,” HB 829, that would have provided grants for wood stoves in rural areas and pellet stoves in more populated areas stalled in the Economic Matters committee of the Maryland House of Delegates.  Despite widespread support for the program, some members were not comfortable with the financing.
The initiative galvanized widespread support in Maryland government, non-profits and businesses to add thermal biomass to the state’s residential renewable energy incentive programs.  The bill set strict emission limits, gave a larger percentage rebate to lower income families and was supported by the Maryland Energy Administration, who would have implemented it.  Their statement said:
“MEA believes that with a Maryland grant to help offset those costs of biomass heating systems for Maryland residents, it will create a greater incentive to use cleaner, cheaper heating sources. As a result, this would also assist in meeting Governor O’Malley’s energy goals reduce per capita electricity consumption in Maryland by 15 % by 2015 and increase Maryland’s Renewable Energy Portfolio (RPS) by 20% by 2022.” For more
Several of the mainstream regional renewable energy groups also supported the bill including the Maryland Clean Energy Center and the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments.
The initiative made the point that residential wood heat, and the low and middle-income families who use it deserve a place at the renewable energy table in Maryland.  A coalition of groups came together to support a bill that balanced key issues, such as emissions, poverty alleviation, renewable energy and jobs.
“I want to thank everyone in this extraordinary coalition for giving a voice to ordinary Maryland families who want to responsibly use renewable fuel from their backyards instead of coal, oil and gas,” said John Ackerly, President of the Alliance for Green Heat.  “We also would like to thank the Maryland Energy Administration, Delegate Heather Mizeur and her staff and other delegates who cosponsored the bill and supported it.”
The bill was in part an outgrowth of a Maryland thermal biomass working group that was convened by Jonathan Kays of the University of Maryland Extension Service.  This working group consisted of representatives of several Maryland government agencies (MD Energy Administration, MD Department of Environment and Department ofNatural Resources), non-profits and businesses.

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