Outrageous! Maryland Gas Utilities Kill Electric Buildings Legislation

Washington Gas and BGE lobbyists block passage of Better Buildings Act

There’s a giant new threat to climate policy in the Maryland General Assembly. It’s called the gas industry. Washington Gas and Baltimore Gas and Electric (BGE) just killed a common-sense, no-cost bill requiring new buildings in Maryland to have electric hot water and space-heating systems. This important climate bill was supported by Governor Wes Moore’s Administration, would have saved consumers money, and had the backing of virtually every environmental group in the state.  

But the Better Buildings Act never even got a vote in the House or Senate. Why? Because Washington Gas and BGE are addicted to planet-wrecking methane gas and they want the state to stay addicted, too. The companies spent $800,000 on statehouse lobbyists in 2023 alone. Those lobbyists then gave piles of cash to legislators’ reelection campaigns and then worked behind closed doors this year to stop progress on a core goal of the climate movement: getting fossil fuels out of new buildings!  

The Better Buildings Act was supposed to be “low-hanging fruit” during this year’s 90-day General Assembly session in Annapolis. It would simply require – like Washington, DC and New York state and Washington state – that new commercial and residential buildings in Maryland include electric-powered, energy-efficient heat pumps for hot water and space heating. Such buildings would SAVE money on construction costs and dramatically reduce greenhouse gasses.  

Electrification of new buildings was the top recommendation of Republican Governor Larry Hogan’s special commission on climate change. But the next year, Washington Gas and BGE sent dozens of lobbyists to Annapolis to kill the bill, insisting instead that a grid capacity study be conducted by the Maryland Public Service Commission. Well, that study came out in 2023 and said no problem: The electrical grid can positively handle the power needs of new structures under the Better Buildings Act.  

But surprise! The polluting utilities killed the bill again this year, ridiculously claiming it would harm the grid and the economy. In the end, there wasn’t even a vote on the bill in the House or Senate!  

Every year it becomes more clear that BGE and Washington Gas are HUGE obstacles standing in the way of Maryland’s statutory goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions 60% by 2031. They use your ratepayer money to pay lobbyists to harm your children’s future.  

And the General Assembly shares the blame. If the General Assembly can’t pass this low-hanging fruit legislation – first proposed by a Republican-led commission and supported now by a popular Democratic governor’s Administration – then how are they ever going to cut emissions at the scale we need?  

It’s time to get mad and take action! Tell Maryland state legislators it’s outrageous that gas-addicted utilities dictate climate policy in Annapolis. It’s time for electric buildings and an end to gas combustion in new buildings.