BALTIMORE – The Maryland Energy Administration (MEA) unveiled the annual OPEN Energy Program to catalyze innovative energy projects and initiatives that transcend traditional programs. The initiative provides a platform for submitting applications for avant-garde projects, particularly those on the brink of commercialization, aiming to usher in new opportunities for clean energy technologies.
MEA Director Paul G. Pinsky emphasized the agency’s commitment to diversity of ideas, stating, “MEA is an agency that seeks input and ideas from a wide range of stakeholders and sources. The OPEN Energy Program enables interested organizations to pitch the agency on new ideas – and Maryland can fully capture the economic and sustainability benefits from those opportunities.”
The OPEN Energy Program encourages energy and workforce development while assisting recipients in implementing measures to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions. It serves as a conduit for organizations to propose projects outside the MEA programs’ established suite, thereby fostering innovation and economic growth.
Pinsky underscored the link between innovation and economic activity, noting, “Innovation spurs economic activity. The OPEN Energy Program provides a unique pathway for advancing cutting-edge projects with the potential for unlocking significant new job growth and training opportunities, along with environmental improvements.”
Aligned with MEA’s mission to promote clean, affordable, and reliable energy with a focus on just and equitable practices, the agency emphasizes tangible and measurable outcomes in proposed projects. MEA invites short initial proposals, including an application and concept paper, to facilitate prompt reviews. A dedicated team at the agency will assess these concept papers, providing feedback or seeking additional information.
As the OPEN Energy Program enters its third year, MEA earmarks an estimated $3.5 million in funding for fiscal year 2024 (FY24). The program has a track record of success, having propelled various projects in previous years. Notable among them is a $1 million award to the Regional Manufacturing Institute, facilitating education for manufacturing organizations on energy consumption reduction and the adoption of clean energy practices.
The OPEN Energy Program has also supported the Evergreen Heritage Center Foundation in Allegany County, contributing to installing a solar photovoltaic system. This system powers the non-profit historic and environmental education facility, engaging K-12 students in STEM education, particularly in areas where such technologies are not widely deployed.
MEA has released the FY24 Funding Opportunity Announcement to provide comprehensive details on the program. Interested entities are urged to submit OPEN Program proposals before January 31, 2024, to be considered for FY24 funding. The agency’s proactive approach in soliciting forward-thinking projects underscores its commitment to advancing Maryland’s clean energy landscape and fostering economic and environmental sustainability.