Census Tracts and Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) Alternative Compliance Payments

Chapter 98 (Ch.98) of the 2023 Laws of Maryland​ (HB550) modified the allowable uses of compliance fees paid under § 7–705(b) and § 7–705(b)(2)(i)(2) of the ​​​Public Utilities Article. These compliance fees may now only be used to make loans and grants to support the creation of new Tier 1 renewable energy sources (§ 7-705(b)) and new solar  energy sources (§ 7-705(b)(2)(i)(2)), in the State that are owned by or directly benefit: 

  • low-to-moderate income communities located in a census tract with a median income at or below 80% of the median income from the State; or,

  • overburdened or underserved communities, as defined § 1–701 of the Environmental Article.

Please note that the compliance fees paid under § 7–705(b) and § 7–705(b)(2)(i)(2) of the Public Utilities Article are being used to fund specific Maryland Energy Administration (MEA) energy programs in fiscal year 2024. A project being located in a qualifying census tract does not automatically qualify the project to receive a loan or grant.

For a particular project to be eligible for § 7–705(b) or § 7–705(b)(2)(i)(2) funding, each project must conform to all applicable program requirements outlined in the respective program’s funding opportunity announcement, and be selected for an award by MEA.  

110723 Map of HB 550 eligible census tracts.PNG

Map of Low-to-Moderate Income, Overburdened, and Underserved Communities meeting the requirements of Ch. 98/HB550.  

As defined by Ch.98/HB550, blue areas meet the definition of an underserved community, orange areas meet the definition of an overburdened community, and green areas meet the definition of a low-to-moderate income community.

For fiscal year 2024, the Maryland Energy Administration has identified this list of Ch.98/HB550 eligible census tracts, with low-to-moderate income communities determined using U.S. Census Data, and overburdened and underserved communities identified through the Maryland Department of the Environment’s EJ Screening Tool.

A searchable Excel spreadsheet of Ch.98/HB550 census tracts eligible for funding generated by alternative compliance payments, or solar alternative compliance payments,  from Maryland’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) can be found here.

Determining a census tract: To determine the census tract for a particular address, the U.S. Census Bureau has developed a Census Geocoder tool. The tool will identify the census tract based on street address.   

  • After inputting the address, scroll down to the section entitled “Census Tracts” and find either the “GeoID” number or the “Name” of the census tract.  

    • Example: MEA’s office location at 1800 Washington Blvd, Baltimore, MD, 21230 is in GeoID #24510210200, also known as Baltimore City census tract #2102.   

  • The GeoID and Census Tract Name information from the Census Geocoder tool can then be cross-referenced with the list of eligible census tracts (PDF version and searchable Excel file).  

    • Please note:  While the GeoID number is a unique number, several counties can have the same census tract number.  When checking HB550 eligibility using census tract number, the census tract number and the name of the county must always be looked at in tandem.

There is also a Census map tool that can be used to help visualize the boundaries of each census tract.

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