Overshadowed by the prominent state solar markets in nearby New Jersey and Pennsylvania, Maryland has quietly emerged as a hotspot for residential solar. With an aggressive Renewable Portfolio Standard and relatively high electricity costs, Maryland homeowners have plenty of reason to throw panels on their rooftops. According to the state’s Public Service Commission, applications to receive state certification for solar systems have already increased 68% this year from 2010 figures, most of which are residential system owners. This news comes on the heels of the University of Maryland’s recent victory in the 2011 Solar Decathlon for their solar module home design.
In addition to hedging against rising electricity costs, Maryland homeowners benefit from a strong SREC market even as neighboring markets have dropped due to severe oversupplies. Trading recently at $200, Maryland SRECs have a positive outlook over the next decade, bolstered by an aggressive ramp-up in SREC requirements and a strong and predicable alternative compliance payment (ACP), which effectively sets the price ceiling for the state SREC market. Although Maryland’s RPS targets- a percentage of retail electricity usage- were modest from 2009-2011, they are scheduled to increase to a volume of roughly 1.5 million SRECs over the next 10 years, which places it second only to New Jersey in that category. Even with three multi-MW solar farms totaling over 40 MW of capacity expected to come online by the end of 2012, Maryland would still be short of its capacity target without additional installations. If the current movement toward residential solar continues in Maryland, expect to see more rooftop solar systems.