A delegate from the Eastern Shore has stepped in to help Del. Dan Cox (R-Frederick and Carroll) and Thurmont’s efforts to keep its electricity costs low for its residents.
Del. Johnny Mautz’s (R-Caroline, Dorchester, Talbot and Wicomico) bill, House Bill 1392, passed the House of Delegates on Thursday in a 105-30 vote. That proposal would ensure that Thurmont residents won’t have to pay higher rates for electricity because of mandates because of the Clean Energy Jobs Act, Cox said in his office Thursday.
“He updated the same bill, but with a better rate,” Cox said of Mautz’s legislation. “So instead of the 2.5 percent for the solar [requirement], they went back to the cap before the Clean Energy Jobs Act.”
He was referring to the fact that if the current bill isn’t passed, the Clean Energy Jobs Act mandates a statewide solar energy requirement of 14.5 percent by 2030, except for electrical cooperatives, which would be capped at 2.5 percent.
The Frederick News-Post previously reported that Cox filed two bills earlier this session that attempted to include Thurmont — and four other municipalities with their own municipal electric utility companies — with the electrical cooperatives.
Cox said that Mautz’s bill means that his bills weren’t necessary, and would actually lead to more savings for Thurmont residents should it become law.
“We’re going to keep working hard together, and kudos to Delegate Mautz for helping get even a better deal for Thurmont,” Cox said.
Mautz returned praise to Cox, noting his work in highlighting the importance of protecting ratepayers in the municipalities that have their own electrical utility companies. One of them, Easton, is in his district.
“Del. Cox really made the difference convincing colleagues that municipal utilities are unique and need this legislation,” he said in a prepared statement. “We’re gonna keep pushing and advocating because we need this legislation enacted this year to protect ratepayers and municipal utilities around the state.”
Thurmont Mayor John Kinnaird said Thursday he appreciated Mautz’s effort.
If the proposal doesn’t become law, it will have a drastic effect on Thurmont residents, Kinnaird said. It could cost residents up to $250,000 this upcoming year, and that would only get worse in future years, he added.
“You’d have to raise your electric rates,” Kinnaird said of a worst-case scenario. “The worst part is, we’d have to go before the [state’s] Public Service Commission in order to ask for an increase in rates, and that costs a lot of money.”
The companion bill, Senate Bill 677, is still awaiting its fate in the Senate. It’s unclear how that will fare, given recent changes at the statehouse involving the coronavirus outbreak globally.
Follow Steve Bohnel on Twitter: @Steve_Bohnel.