Beefing up the grid necessary for future Md. electric consumption

The time when electric vehicle owners and vehicle fleets can recharge anywhere on demand is what some Marylander officials envision. However, the leader of a state legislative panel on energy said that’s still a future goal — and one with challenges.

Maryland State Sen. Brian Feldman, who is chair of the newly configured Education, Energy and the Environment Committee said Friday, “We’re trying to electrify everything from EVs to buildings, and yet the grid to support that — the capacity’s not there,” he said.

At the same time, Feldman expressed optimism that Maryland could see benefits to the environment and the economy by competing for federal grant money available through the Inflation Reduction Act and the federal infrastructure bill from last year. “Because there’s tremendous upside economic potential for our state in the clean energy space.”

Feldman said the issue of enabling the grid to accommodate future demands for electric power “isn’t entirely a legislative issue, there’s a role for the Public Service Commission,” the five member body that serves as a regulator for public utilities in Maryland.

Feldman said representatives from the PSC and a regional transmission organization, PJM, will appear at a briefing before the committee next week. He explained that Maryland is part of a 13-state grid “and so we have to partner with PJM and 12 other states.”

PJM, according to its website, “is a regional transmission organization (RTO) that coordinates the movement of wholesale electricity in all or parts of 13 states and the District of Columbia.”

Feldman stressed that the issue of shifting to more sustainable energy “is a national issue — we’ve got a lot of energy generation in the mid-West that can’t currently in the United States get to the East Coast.” Feldman said there are energy generation and conservation goals that are “important for us to address in a really smart way.”

At a briefing with Senate President Bill Ferguson, Feldman was asked if there’s a state that provides a template for making the changes Feldman outlined. He told reporters, “I’d like us to be the leaders in the country, and candidly I think we have a great shot for political reasons” including proximity to the nation’s capital.