The passage of the Climate Solutions Now Act of 2022 (CSNA) set Maryland on a course to achieve the climate goals of 60% reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2031 – relative to 2006 levels – and net zero emissions by 2045. To meet these ambitious goals, the CSNA stated the need to electrify the state’s building sector and directed the Maryland Public Service Commission (PSC) to conduct a study assessing the capacity of gas and electric companies’ distribution systems to successfully serve customers under a managed transition to a highly electrified building sector. Maryland PSC retained Brattle to conduct the study on its behalf.

In the study, the Brattle team modeled electrification scenarios through 2031 that would result in direct building heating emissions reductions consistent with the achievement of Maryland’s climate goals. The study assessed three high electrification scenarios that achieve the GHG emissions reduction targets set forth in the CSNA. The results indicate that the aggregate Maryland electric systems would see load growth rates in the range of 0.6–2.1% per year through 2031 with high electrification, assuming only mandated minimum levels of energy efficiency and demand response. Increased deployment of energy efficiency and load flexibility would further reduce load growth to a range of -0.2–1.2% per year. This increase in electricity demand growth is accompanied by a 31–32% reduction in building sector gas demand by 2031 in high electrification scenarios.

Historically, there was significant Maryland system load growth in the 1980s of 4.9% per year and more moderate growth of 1.2–1.5% from 1990 to 2010, while load declined between 2010 and 2020. These results show that – with high electrification of the building sector – peak load growth through 2031 will be comparable to or less than the growth rate the Maryland system has seen over the past 40 years. While the study provides a system-level view of load growth trajectory under different scenarios, it does not identify the exact timing, location, and magnitude of utility distribution system upgrades that may be needed. It is plausible that electrification may be concentrated on the parts of the distribution network with limited headroom for some of the in-scope utilities and that these distribution assets will need more immediate upgrades than others.

The full report, “An Assessment of Electrification Impacts on the Maryland Electric Grid,” was authored by Brattle Principals Dr. Sanem Sergici, Ryan Hledik, and Michael Hagerty; Managing Energy Associate Akhilesh Ramakrishnan; Energy Research Associate Kate Peters; Senior Energy Analyst Julia Olszewski; and Energy Analysts Ethan Snyder and Hazel Ethier. The Brattle team was supported by Applied Energy Group and Mondre Energy.

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