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Two Bills to Promote Solar Energy

A few months ago, I was proud to be a lead sponsor of a resolution declaring a climate emergency with a goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2027 — and 100 percent by 2035. Because I view climate change as the defining environmental challenge of our time, I felt it was important to set an ambitious goal for addressing it.

While we may congratulate ourselves on the progress we’ve made, we are not always honest about what is happening. For example, the county talks about having drastically reduced greenhouse gas emissions from a 2005 baseline, but the reality is that our emissions have actually gone up by more than 35% since 2005 (from 114,000 to 156,985 metric tons). Those increases are masked by offsets - essentially, the county purchases wind and solar credits that financially help produce wind and solar elsewhere. Producing wind and solar energy elsewhere is important, but I believe we need direct action at home to promote the use of solar energy.

That is why I introduced two bills to promote solar energy earlier this week. Bill 11-18 would require new and “extensively modified” commercial buildings to have solar panels on the roof if possible, vegetative roofs as a secondary option, and reflective roofs in cases where solar and vegetative roofs aren’t realistic. Bill 12-18 would require homebuilders to offer a solar option when constructing single-family homes and townhouses - by ensuring that homebuyers receive information about the benefits of a solar panel system and how much it would cost to install, this bill would address the lack of information that can deter people from embracing residential solar panels. Together, these bills would make buildings in Montgomery County much more sustainable - the public hearings for them are scheduled for April 10 at 1:30 pm and I hope you will support them. If you have ideas about how to make the bills better, I’d also love to hear those.

Of course, if we are to significantly reduce our carbon footprint, there is much more we need to do in addition to these bills, and if I have the opportunity to be your next County Executive, I will be committed to additional bold environmental action. I have been out in front on virtually every environmental fight in the county for the last 30 years and, in addition to addressing climate change, will continue to protect our streams, drinking water, fields and farms, forest stands, tree canopies, and street trees. You can read about my plans - and my longstanding leadership on environmental issues - on my website.

Please take a moment to check out my other priorities, too. Thank you for your support for my campaign - with your continued help, I am confident we can improve the quality of life for everyone in this county and build toward a smarter, more sustainable future.

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