Annapolis, MD -- Today’s Senate Finance Committee hearing for Maryland’s Community Choice Energy bill (CCE), introduced by Senator Pam Beidle and Delegate Lorig Charkoudian, emphasized the diverse and far-reaching support amassed by the legislation. Multiple counties have passed resolutions officially indicating their support for the bill, including Prince George's County, Baltimore City and Montgomery County. A vast array of organizations, from environmental justice groups to consumer advocacy nonprofits, have also thrown their voices behind the bill.
Community choice energy programs, which have picked up momentum across the U.S. and proven effective in many states already, give counties and municipalities the power to negotiate their own energy packages, aiding the transition to 100% clean, renewable energy and potentially driving down rates for consumers.
“This enabling legislation supports local governments in aggregating and purchasing on behalf of the residents,” explains Sen. Pam Beidle, sponsor of the bill. “Nine other states have passed community choice energy measures. Residents will still have the choices they have now, plus one more: counties and municipalities will be able to negotiate lower rates, and possibly lower rates on green energy. It’s another way to move to renewable energy. In the climate crisis, we need all the tools in the toolbox. And local governments want this tool.”
“This legislation is about democracy,” says Reverend Kobi Little, representative for the Maryland chapter of the NAACP. “The unit in democracy is people, not profit. Currently, the energy industry is all about profit, and repeatedly, this body has had to step in and protect consumers. This legislation is another step in democratizing energy, returning control to the people, and advancing the way we use and distribute energy. This is a national priority for the NAACP.”
“The prospect of CCE in Maryland is being met with extraordinarily strong support, from environmental organizations to consumer protection groups,” says Lily Hawkins, Maryland organizer for Food & Water Action. “The City Council of Baltimore and Council of Prince George’s County voted to support the bill. These groups and local governments want to stop climate change, and to do so in ways that everybody can afford. With states that implement this, we see cleaner, cheaper energy provided to communities.”
“This is about energy equity and cost,” says Marceline White, Executive Director of the Maryland Consumer Rights Coalition. “We’re here in support of this bill because using the collective power of communities, community choice aggregations are able to negotiate rates that are 15 to 20 per cent lower than retail price. We believe this offers choice, it harnesses power, and it reduces the cost of rates for many low-income households.”
“I want to focus on affordability and the low-income part of it,” says Arjun Makhijani, President of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research. “We know competition is working for those large businesses that get third party supply. It’s not working for individuals who go on third party supply. This community choice is about making competition work for low-income people, and all people.”
“Montgomery County has an ambitious goal of getting to 100% clean energy by 2035,” says Adam Ortiz, Director of the Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection. “There is pressure on us to meet this goal, and there is still so much more that we can and must do. Local governments are involved in aggregation all the time. Why should energy be any different?”