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Maryland Senate president Bill Ferguson hired by solar energy firm

Lorraine Mirabella, The Baltimore Sun on

Published in News & Features

BALTIMORE — Maryland Senate President Bill Ferguson has taken a job with a Baltimore-based solar power company, a move he believes can give him valuable energy expertise as the state moves from reliance on fossil fuels to a renewable energy future.

The Baltimore City Democrat started about a month ago as senior vice president and counsel for CI Renewables. The company owns and develops large-scale commercial and industrial solar power facilities and recently announced it will design projects for University of Maryland, Baltimore and University of Maryland Medical System.

At CI Renewables, Ferguson will be largely responsible for reviewing transactional documents, such as power purchase and lease agreements for solar development deals.

He said in an interview Tuesday that he was attracted to the field because he can tap into his legal background and because of his interest in navigating an energy transition in a way that is realistic, financially viable and equitable. And he said he sees it as a good fit with his legislative commitments.

“I get to learn more about the dynamics of the industry as well as hopefully help get more renewable energy built on our grid in the mid-Atlantic,” he said.

Outside his Senate job, Ferguson had worked for the past three years as a program director for nonprofit America Achieves, leading a state recovery initiative that emerged in the wake of the pandemic. But he said he had been looking for something more permanent. Ferguson’s state salary for 2024 is $70,705, according to state records.

His latest role outside the legislature comes about two years after the General Assembly passed the Climate Solutions Now Act, setting a target for the state to reduce its output of greenhouse gas emissions 60% by 2031.

 

In December, state environment officials released a blueprint calling for new policies, such as requiring more electricity to be generated by renewable sources such as solar power, and about $1 billion per year in extra funding.

Legislators, who are considered part-time and, for most of them, work other jobs, are required to recuse themselves from voting on bills if an issue directly impacts an employer. But Ferguson said he doesn’t expect to face such conflicts.

“Part of the reason of it being a part-time legislature that in its creation, citizens are supposed to bring their expertise from what they do in their lives outside of the legislature,” Ferguson said. “For the most part, we want people with expertise in various industries.”

CI Renewables recently reached a power purchase agreement with University of Maryland Medical System to design, install and maintain solar energy parking lot canopies at three corporate locations. The project, which includes two office buildings in Linthicum, is expected to help the medical system generate more than $12 million in savings in electricity and parking lot maintenance over a decade.

Along with other carbon free or low carbon renewable energy sources, the solar canopy project will allow the health system to move to using 48% renewable energy, UMMS said in an April announcement.

Ferguson said his first few weeks with CI Renewables has shown him “just how hard and complex these projects are to get to fruition, to get operational. … It’s been a bit eye-opening just how complicated it is to transition to more renewable sources.”


©2024 The Baltimore Sun. Visit at baltimoresun.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

 

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