Montgomery County: Fifteen Years to Emission Zero

       Can a Maryland county with over one million people make the bold transition to zero emissions in just 15 years? We’re about to find out.  Montgomery County, MD has released a draft plan laying out 87 actions getting the county to a 80% greenhouse gas reduction by 2027 and 100% by 2035. County Executive Marc Elrich, who was a strong advocate for climate goals while in the council and ran on these same issues  during his 2018 CE campaign, notes our current climate emergency as the reason behind the plan.  In an introduction letter, he calls the plan “a future reimagined, one in which our buildings, transportation system, government processes, consumption patterns, and community engagement efforts are all realigned to meet our generation’s greatest challenge.”

       The plan itself lays out a series of resolutions, timelines,  projections for implementation, and pathways to achieve their goals. In the process, it addresses other center-stage issues like inequity in transportation access, community vulnerability, and socio-economic injustice as additional subset categories that can also be addressed within the layout of the plan’s implemented vision.

       The 235-page document was drafted during this past year, while the county climate team was in quarantine/virtual work/social distancing while at the same time juggling virtual school/childcare/etc.  As Assistant Chief Administrative Officer and Climate Change Coordinator Adriana Hochberg says in her closing remarks, “The efforts of the climate team were enhanced by community members who contributed their time, expertise, and lived experiences to help us craft a plan that reflects the unique needs and realities of Montgomery County.”

       One of the planned programs for this clean transition is Community Choice Aggregation, a program laid out in a bill (currently being drafted) headed to MD session this year, sponsored by Delegate Lorig Charkoudian. This 7-year pilot program would allow the county to choose energy sourcing on behalf of its residents, opening the possibility for aggressive utilization of crowd-sourced choice for renewables in the state’s most populated county.  Residents will have the choice to opt-out & select another source.  Currently, seven other states have community choice programs.  (As this bill progresses we will give updates in future blogs throughout the session).

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