solar-resources-flowers-pic1Maryland is raising the state’s use of solar energy and improving its incentives for purchasing electric vehicles with a series of bills signed by Governor Martin O’Malley.

To increase the amount of solar energy used in the state, O’Malley signed Senate Bill 277 (SB 277), which will raise the percentage of solar that utilities must generate under the requirements of the state’s renewable portfolio standard (RPS).

SB 277 requires utilities to generate two percent of their electrical output from solar by 2020. This is part of a broader requirement that 20 percent of utilities’ output come from renewable sources by 2020, according to sunpluggers.com.

The bill also increases the monetary penalties for utilities that do not meet the timeline of the RPS standards. It will raise the penalties by $0.05 per kWh from 2011 to 2012 and by $0.10 per kWh from 2013 to 2016.

To increase the number of EVs on the road in Maryland, O’Malley signed House Bill 469, which gives plug-in electric vehicle purchasers a tax credit of up to $2,000, coming into effect on Oct. 1 this year.

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The governor also signed a bill which allows EVs to drive in high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes regardless of the number of passengers in the car. This bill, HB 674, will also take effect on Oct. 1, and will last for three years.

“Electric vehicles will provide far-reaching economic, environmental, national security and health benefits to our citizens,” said the Maryland office of the governor’s website.

The renewable energy and EV bills are part of Maryland’s Smart, Green and Growing initiative, which aims to bring more green jobs to the state and adopt green business practices to make a stronger economy and healthier environment.

“This important tax credit not only helps promote the use of cleaner, more energy efficient vehicles throughout our state to help our environment, but it’s an important economic development tool as well,” said Governor O’Malley in a General Motors press release about the bill signing.

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