GRID Act: For Maryland's Grid of the Future
VICTORY! The provisions of the Grid Reliability and Inclusive Distribution Act, or “GRID Act,” were included in SB 528, the “Climate Solutions Now Act of 2022,” which passed in March 2022!
Read on to learn more about what the original provisions of the GRID Act include, and what will now be law in Maryland!
In the climate fight, the most important thing we can do is expand clean electrification. This means more electric cars, all-electric buildings and a growing reliance on wind, solar and other emission-free energy. The problem is, how do we run a 21st century energy future on a 20th century electric grid?
Maryland urgently needs to modernize its electric grid to handle complex energy needs like home solar cells, vehicle charging stations, and increased demand for electric vehicles and all-electric building construction. This is a critical step for responding to climate change and transitioning to clean energy. Planning for how to upgrade the grid is beginning, and the General Assembly has the opportunity in 2022 to guide this process to ensure Maryland has the infrastructure to meet our climate goals while promoting equity and good jobs.
For a clean and equitable grid of the future, we passed the GRID Act.
A Once-in-a-Lifetime Opportunity
With the recent passage of the federal infrastructure bill, we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to invest in our grid. The bill specifically allocates funds for updating the electricity distribution grid, allowing us to make critically needed improvements to ensure Maryland meets its clean energy goals, reduces greenhouse gas emissions, and creates family-supporting jobs.
The Solution: The GRID Act
The Grid Reliability and Inclusive Distribution Act — or GRID Act — as passed via SB 528, will support and guide the Public Service Commission (PSC) in the grid improvement planning process.
The GRID Act:
- Defines how Maryland will meet state climate goals, including reducing greenhouse gas emissions, expanding our use of renewable energy, promoting equity, supporting family-sustaining employment, and ensuring energy resiliency and cost-effectiveness
- Directs one-time federal infrastructure funding to support grid improvements. This works in tandem with grant funding from the Department of Energy to support grid modernization.
- Ensures representative engagement in the distribution grid planning processes, including:
- Residential and commercial energy customers
- Low-income communities
- Environmental advocacy groups
- Labor unions
- Industry experts in electric vehicles, distributed energy resources, and distribution planning
- Requires the PSC to issue an annual report about its progress
- Supports family-sustaining jobs by requiring that all distribution grid upgrade projects:
- Offer the area prevailing wage for each trade employed
- Provide health and retirement benefits
- Participate in apprenticeship programs registered with the state for the trade
- Develop a plan to recruit and retain state residents, including returning citizens, women, minority individuals, and veterans
Why Must We Act Now?
Across the nation, state legislators are leading the way to a clean, updated, and more reliable grid by establishing new processes and principles for achieving cost-effective solutions through integrated, long-term planning. In Illinois, California, New York, and D.C., these new policies include requiring utilities to show how their spending on new substations, transformers, and technologies to support electrification and withstand extreme weather will advance state clean energy goals, promote investments in overburdened communities, and create good jobs.
With the passage of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), the huge influx of federal support for grid modernization and distribution system planning presents an opportunity to leverage federal dollars in support of state clean energy and economic development goals.
We have worked so hard to put Maryland on a path for a clean energy transition. Federal funds can help support that transition, but only if Maryland is positioned to harness those funds. Many funding streams from the IIJA are competitive, merit-based grants that require states to demonstrate commitments to carbon reductions, renewable energy deployment, and labor standards. The GRID Act helps Maryland prepare for this window of opportunity by defining how we will meet state goals and providing support and guidance to the PSC’s distribution planning process. This will make Maryland competitive and ready for federal investments.
For a cleaner, more equitable grid of the future, Maryland passed the GRID Act!
- Op-ed: “It’s time to make Maryland a climate leader again.” Victoria Venable, The Daily Record, 1/12/2022
- “Here’s How The Infrastructure Bill Improves The Grid.” Alliance to Save Energy
- “People’s Counsel: Remember Texas! Md. Needs Robust Electric Distribution Planning.” Maryland Matters, 2/10/2022