Governor O’Malley Delivers Keynote Address to Maryland Association of Counties

Outlines Policy to Secure Maryland’s Energy Future

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OCEAN CITY, MD (August 16, 2008) – Governor Martin O’Malley today delivered the keynote address at the Maryland Association of Counties (MACo) Annual Summer Conference in Ocean City.  Speaking to hundreds of local elected officials and policymakers, Governor O’Malley outlined plans to secure Maryland's energy future through state and local partnerships, investment in renewable energy, and technology to reduce consumption. 

Governor O’Malley made planning for Maryland's energy future a focal point of the first year of his administration, immediately restoring professional, competent, and independent regulators to the Public Service Commission that repeatedly failed to stand up for the public's interest.

“During the first two years, the O’Malley-Brown Administration has been taking every shot we can on behalf of Maryland consumers and businesses,” said Governor O’Malley.  “Some of these battles we have lost and some of these battles we have won, but every day we fight for the public interest of the people of Maryland.  And that is what we are going to continue to do – sparing no expense, retaining any expert, hiring whatever legal resources the public's case requires, and recruiting our neighbors in other States whenever possible to stand up for the public interest in our fight for a more affordable and secure energy future.”

“In the 21st century’s global economy, we are increasingly finding ourselves competing with rising economies like China and India for global commodities like oil, natural gas, and coal.  The hard reality is that 60% of our electricity in Maryland is generated by the burning of coal.  In China alone, they are on pace to build one new coal-fired plant each week.  The price of coal – whether its shoveled into a Maryland power plant or leaving the port of Baltimore in a ship bound for Asia – has risen by over 50% compared to this same time last year.  Just as global market forces brought oil to $140 per barrel and gasoline to $4 per gallon, worldwide demand for coal is driving up all of our electric bills at home and all over the world.”

“We believe that Maryland can be the national leader in renewable energy and we will move forward toward making our State the first in the nation to use its market power to jumpstart large scale, commercial renewable energy projects,” stated Governor O’Malley.

During his speech, Governor O’Malley outlined the challenges Maryland faces and a number of proposals to move Maryland toward a more secure, stable, and sustainable energy future, including:

Partnering with metropolitan, county, municipal governments using the bonding authority of Maryland Environmental Services to develop smaller scale “peaking plants” to bring new plants online as soon as possible.  Smaller scale, on-site generation and behind-the-meter generators can be cost-effective and considerably less complicated to build and help to meet generation demand in the coming years. 

Offering long-term contracts for clean, renewable power, to accelerate the arrival of more commercial scale projects like Delaware’s off-shore wind farm.  Maryland must become a national leader in renewable energy and move forward toward making our State the first in the nation to use its market power to jumpstart large scale, commercial renewable energy projects.

Accelerating the deployment of so-called smart meters and smart pricing to consumers in order to reduce consumption and therefore reduce the rate of demand growth.  Throughout the day, energy prices fluctuate based on electricity usage.  With smart pricing, consumers are charged less for electricity during non-peak times.  Smart meters give all of us the power to lower our electric bills by choosing to run the dishwasher or clothes dryer when energy is least expensive.  Pilot programs in other states, that smart pricing and smart meters have reduced consumers’ bills by 15%. 

Maintaining on-site generation that can also come to the aid of our entire State by working as peaking units.  Maryland will pursue more partnerships with federal facilities and other large institutions to move from the notion of back-up emergency generators to a new fleet of distributed peaking generators to relieve the growing stress on our power grid and its supply.

Providing assistance to low-income families who are struggling to afford energy prices, during these difficult economic times.  The State of Maryland must use the Strategic Energy Investment fund to help increase current investments in energy assistance for lower income families; conservation and conservation technologies.  None of our neighbors should have to face a winter without heat or a sweltering summer's day without some relief. 

Using the Public Service Commission to direct utilities to either find or build new generation to address any future supply shortfalls that the market is not reasonably expected to deliver in time to keep the lights on in 2011, 2012, and the years that follow. 

Governor O’Malley acknowledged that there is no single idea or technology that alone can lead to a more stable and sustainable energy future. “The complexity of our current challenge demands that we pursue a number of different paths which we hope will converge on the horizon of possibilities with other paths being pursued in science, technology, chemistry, and physics – here and around the world,” he said.

Governor O’Malley also discussed the drawbacks of re-regulating Maryland’s energy companies.

“There are proposals in both houses of the state legislature that would re-regulate our energy industry, but the problem is that no one is willing to raise the $20 billion in new revenues required to buy the power-plants away from the holding companies and place them back into a regulated market.  Nor is there any political stomach for raising $10 billion in new revenues for the less dramatic approach of placing the State squarely in the business of power generation,” said Governor O'Malley.  “If we are willing to reach a consensus that re-regulation can mean something other than taking back power plants, there are solid potential options and we've asked the PSC to investigate and offer a report on several of them.”

Some of the options include requiring that all future generation be owned by in-state utilities, developing new plants that are financed by utilities, or creating public-private partnerships with the State.

Saturday’s keynote speech at the Maryland Association of Counties arrives following 20 months of steady progress toward sustainable, secure energy policies signing the Clean Cars Act and adopting new green building standards for public buildings while investing in green technology for our schools. During the recent legislative session, Governor O’Malley signed the EmPOWER Maryland Initiative, one of the most ambitious goals in the nation for lowering energy consumption 15% by 2015. In addition, the O’Malley Brown Administration helped pass legislation that requires 20% of Maryland's energy portfolio to come from renewable sources of energy.

The Maryland Association of Counties is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that includes representatives from Maryland’s 23 counties and Baltimore City.  The annual summer conference is held in Ocean City and attendees from every Maryland jurisdiction have an opportunity to attend workshops, policy presentations, and gather with other elected officials to form partnerships and learn about innovations in governance.

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