Maryland could gain more than 68,000 new jobs and $3.75 billion in new gross domestic product as a result of investments to be made over the next 10 years through the EmPOWER Maryland energy efficiency program, according to a new study from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE). The study comes as the Maryland General Assembly debates bipartisan legislation to extend EmPOWER Maryland and establish new statewide energy efficiency goals.
EmPOWER Maryland, enacted in 2008, helps homeowners and businesses save energy by offering incentives and technical assistance for adding insulation, sealing air leaks, and installing more-efficient appliances. The program is administered by Maryland's five largest electric utilities and also facilitates efficient commercial lighting as well as other improvements at industrial facilities.
ACEEE's study reveals that the program's projected investments between 2017 and 2026 will:
- Create more than 68,000 new jobs in Maryland, with the highest concentration occurring in construction and services sectors
- Add approximately $3.75 billion to the state's gross domestic product
- Reduce electricity consumption by more than 130 billion kilowatt hours
- Generate $11.7 billion in energy savings for Maryland families and businesses
The full study can be viewed at: http://aceee.org/white-paper/empowering-maryland-0317
The Maryland General Assembly is considering legislation to require a 2% reduction in energy consumption from the state's five largest electric utilities. The Maryland House of Delegates passed the legislation last week, 92-46, with bipartisan support. The Maryland Senate is expected to vote on the legislation this week, which could encourage energy efficiency efforts such as the EmPOWER program.
"Our research finds that EmPOWER Maryland produces both good-paying jobs and customer savings on electric bills," said Brendon Baatz, study co-author and utilities policy manager at ACEEE. "Investing in smarter energy usage means more disposable income for consumers, lower operating costs for businesses, and increased jobs in construction, manufacturing, and other industries. Maryland lawmakers can say with confidence that a vote for EmPOWER Maryland is a vote for a stronger economy."
A study released by ACEEE in January found that energy efficiency measures already installed because of EmPOWER Maryland will result in $4 billion in total cost savings for Marylanders.
The first phase of EmPOWER Maryland aimed to reduce per capita electricity usage by 10% and peak electricity demand by 15% by 2015. The Maryland Public Service Commission concluded in 2015 that state utilities achieved 99% of the per capita consumption goal and 100% of the per capita demand reduction goal.
ACEEE's analysis focuses on the next phase of the EmPOWER Maryland program, which would include the 2% energy reduction goal. ACEEE's study notes that the job creation would be spread across the economy, with significant gains in construction and related sectors over the next few years. Construction sector employment remains more than 15% below its pre-2009 levels.
Partly because of the EmPOWER Maryland program, Maryland now ranks as the ninth most energy-efficient state in the nation, according to ACEEE.