Berlin To Pitch In Lobbyist Funds On Electric Effort

BERLIN – The town will continue its efforts to promote legislation that would help keep costs down for Berlin’s electric utility.

On Monday, the Berlin Town Council voted 4-0 to support Mayor Zack Tyndall’s proposal to help pay for a lobbyist to push Senate Bill 677 and House Bill 1392. The bills were cross filed to establish a cap on Maryland’s Renewable Energy Portfolio Standards as they relate to municipal electric utilities.

“This is a no brainer,” Councilman Dean Burrell said.

Tyndall told the council that because Senate Bill 516 passed last year, the town would be facing increased costs. The bill, known as the Clean Energy Jobs Act, increased the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) in Maryland. “What that bill has done is placed a standard of Renewable Energy Portfolio Credits that need to be satisfied by each electric utility,” Tyndall said. “There are five municipal electric utilities in the state, Berlin being one. If you don’t satisfy the tiered requirements there’s something called an alternative compliance payment that you have to begin to pay. That’s almost in the form of a penalty on the electric utility.”

The state’s five municipal electric utilities have banded together to support Senate Bill 677 and House Bill 1392, as those would establish caps on RPS, saving the town more than $2 million from 2021 to 2030.

Tyndall said Easton Utilities had taken the lead in the process and hired a lobbyist for $45,000.

“Easton has taken on the initial contract of Old Line Government Affairs but they have said if the other municipalities would like to chip in, you’d have some skin in the game,” Tyndall said.

Berlin’s share would be $2,858. Tyndall said that while that amount didn’t require council approval, he’d wanted to share information about the bills and enlist council support in the process.

“The cost savings is pretty huge,” Tyndall said.

Town Administrator Jeff Fleetwood added that then-Mayor Gee Williams started the process last year and had already written to Senator Mary Beth Carozza regarding the issue.

“What we’ll be doing is updating that letter to reflect the new change in administration, to reflect the change in the council, so our representatives do see a united force if that’s what’s decided,” Tyndall said.

Council members said the initiative had their support and voted 4-0 to spend the money on the lobbyist.

About The Author: Charlene Sharpe

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Charlene Sharpe has been with The Dispatch since 2014. A graduate of Stephen Decatur High School and the University of Richmond, she spent seven years with the Delmarva Media Group before joining the team at The Dispatch.