Maryland Energy Administration Empowering Maryland: Clean Energy Programs FY 2012
The mission of the Maryland Energy Administration (MEA) is to promote affordable, reliable, and clean energy using money from the state Strategic Energy Investment Fund (SEIF). These programs are part of Governor O’Malley’s “Smart, Green and Growing” initiative, to help reduce household bills, create new green collar jobs, address global climate change, and promote energy independence. MEA relies on funds from the federal government and the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and receives no state general funds.
In July 2011 MEA published its Empowering Maryland Clean Energy Programs FY 2012 to highlight its programs that support clean energy and energy efficiency throughout the state. The booklet is divided into three goals: (1) expand energy efficiency; (2) promote renewables; and (3) encourage innovation and energy security. The following is a brief summary of MEA’s initiatives to support these goals.
Goal 1 – Expand Energy Efficiency
A. Multi-Family Housing Retrofits for Low and Moderate Income Families
In coordination with the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) and housing nonprofit organizations, MEA will provide energy efficiency retrofits in condominium and apartment units to reduce energy bills for low and moderate income families. MEA pays a portion of incremental costs for energy efficiency measures for new or rehabilitated multifamily buildings already undergoing DHCD rehabilitation. MEA pays up to $2,500 per unit, with a cap of $500,000 per project.
B. Commercial and Industrial Programs
MEA provides technical and financial assistance to assist Maryland businesses and institutions implement energy efficiency upgrades and/or energy assessments. Among other initiatives, MEA offers a low-interest rate revolving loan program to help finance the cost of energy efficiency projects in commercial and industrial facilities. During FY 2011, MEA, partnering with the University of Maryland Energy Technology Service, completed six commercial and industrial assessments.
C. State Agency Loan Program
The State Agency Loan Program (SALP) is a revolving loan program administered by MEA. SALP provides zero interest loans, with a 1% administrative fee, to state agencies for energy efficiency projects. This program assists state agencies reduce energy consumption.
D. Empowering Clean Energy Communities
The overall empower Clean Energy Communities initiative consists of two programs: (1) Empower Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant Program (Empower EECBG); and (2) Empower Clean Energy Communities low-to-moderate income (Empower LMI) competitive grants.
Under the Empower EECBG program, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) provided $9.59 million to MEA to fund sub-grants to Maryland municipalities in order to support energy efficiency and/or renewable energy projects at local government facilities. The Empower EECBG funding will go to Maryland municipalities not receiving direct funding through the DOE EECBG program.
In FY 2012, the Empower Clean Energy Communities Low-to-Moderate Income Grant Program anticipates having $2.18 million in grant funds available for energy efficiency projects that benefit low-to-moderate income Marylanders. Grants will be awarded to local governments and non-profits that deliver energy services to low-to-moderate income households in their communities. Energy services funded under this program include energy efficient HVAC replacements, air sealing, insulation, and ENERGY STAR appliance upgrades.
E. Jane E. Lawton Conservation Loan Program
The Jane E. Lawton Conservation Loan Program provides eligible non-profit organizations (including hospitals and private schools), local governments (including public school systems and community colleges), and businesses in Maryland an opportunity to reduce operating expenses by identifying and installing energy conservation improvements. This loan program allows borrowers to use the cost savings generated by the added improvements as the primary source of revenue for repaying the loans.
F. Maryland Home Performance Program
The Maryland Home Performance Program allows consumers to receive direct rebates for energy efficiency work done to their homes, which will be in addition to rebates offered by most Maryland utilities or tax credits from local or federal sources. MEA will reimburse the consumer 35% of the cost of audits and improvements. This rebate will be in addition to the 15% rebate the customer is eligible for from the utility provider that performed the diagnostic energy audit.
Goal 2 – Promote Renewables
A. Residential Clean Energy Grants
MEA will provide grant rebates to about 2,100 households for the installation of qualified solar photovoltaic (PV) and water, heating, geothermal, and winds systems throughout the state. In order to maximize the limited program dollars, MEA has reduced the maximum solar water heating grant to $500.
B. Commercial Clean Energy Grants
The Commercial Clean Energy Grant Program provides financial incentives for the installation of renewable energy systems for Maryland businesses, government, and non-profit entities. MEA provides grant up to $50,000 for midsized solar PV systems less than 200 kW and up to $1,000 for solar water heating systems in commercial buildings. Qualifying wind turbines up to 100 kW are eligible for grants up to $75,000.
C. Transportation Program
MEA supports the expansion of alternative fuel and electric vehicle markets in Maryland through grants, tax credits, and other programs. In 2010 MEA created the Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Program to provide grants for the installation of 69 electric re-charging stations. This program will be expanded in 2012 to include additional stations throughout Maryland. MEA, partnering with the Maryland Department of Transportation, administers the Governor’s Electric Vehicle Tax Credit Program, providing up to $2,000 of the titling tax for an electric vehicle. In addition, 2011 legislation created the Electric Vehicle Recharging Tax Credit Program, which provides a tax credit up to $400 for the purchase of an electric vehicle recharging station.
D. Offshore Wind
While MEA does not have funding associated with an offshore wind initiative, it supports the Governor’s legislative proposal from 2011, to encourage the development of offshore wind energy for Maryland.
Goal 3 – Encourage Innovation and Energy Security
A. Empowering Financing Initiative
The Empowering Financing (EF) Initiative seeks to leverage private capital to provide accessible and affordable financing for residential energy efficiency improvements. The EF Initiative, along with the Maryland Clean Energy Center, has secured private capital to provide loans to Maryland property owners interested in improving the energy efficiency in their homes. Homeowners implementing whole-house energy efficiency improvements in the Maryland Home Performance with ENERGY STAR Program may finance between $2,500 and $20,000 at 6.99% for up to 10 years. Homeowners installing energy efficiency equipment only may finance the same amount for up to 10 years to 9.99%.
B. Clean Energy Economic Development Initiative
The Clean Energy Economic Development Initiative has no budget in FY 2012. However, in FY 2011 MEA awarded over $5 million in grants to Maryland companies to expand their clean energy businesses.
C. Energy Assurance Planning
MEA is developing a Comprehensive Energy Assurance Plan, which is intended to facilitate recovery from any disruption to Maryland’s energy supply and strengthen the state’s energy section resiliency. The project is expected to be completed in August 2012, with regular updates thereafter.