Rhode Islanders Crusade for Green Power

The independent, not-for-profit organization, Save The Bay, has joined forces with the national clean energy group, Green-e, and local groups, People’s Power & Light and Sun Power Electric, in a new partnership to promote the use of renewable energy in Rhode Island.

Providence, Rhode Island – August 21, 2003 [SolarAccess.com] A goal of the collaboration is to make Rhode Islanders aware that they can influence how electricity is produced and push the industry toward more socially responsible and environmentally friendly forms of electrical generation. “With this program, Rhode Islanders can now ensure their electricity dollars support power plants that provide a cleaner, healthier alternative for our environment, all while simultaneously supporting Save The Bay,” said H. Curtis Spalding, executive director of Save The Bay. “It’s a win/win situation for us all.” According to Save the Bay, purchasing renewable energy certificates from People’s Power & Light and Sun Power Electric (for as little as US$5.25 a month) ensures a proportionate amount of green electricity is added to New England’s power pool serving Rhode Island residents and businesses. Save The Bay will receive a direct contribution of $25 for every enrollment in the program through September 15. The more people invest in renewable energy certificates, the more wind, solar and biomass (power from organic waste, such as landfill gas) is added to the power pool. “Developing partnerships with groups like Save The Bay and others is a great way to join with others in educating consumers on the need for and availability of renewable energy,” said Erich Stephens, executive director of People’s Power & Light. People’s Power & Light is a non-profit energy cooperative based in Providence. Its first product offering was New England Wind, which utilizes the first commercial-scale wind turbine to go online on the U. S. East Coast, the Hull Wind Turbine in Massachusetts. Sun Power Electric, based in Westborough, Massachusetts is a division of Conservation Services Group, a non-profit company dedicated to promoting energy efficiency, conserving resources and protecting the environment. Sun Power builds and operates solar power plants in the northeastern U.S. including one in Middletown, Rhode Island. “When you purchase renewable energy certificates you are directly supporting the generators of cleaner, renewable resources in the regions where their power plants are located,” said Rachel Pinnons, Manager of Operations Development for Sun Power Electric. “By helping to offset the added cost involved in generating these resources, you will encourage and enable these generators to build new power plants.” Both suppliers’ products have been certified by Green-e, a nationally recognized, voluntary certification program to help consumers identify superior renewable energy products and verify that certified products meet marketing claims. “Save The Bay’s approach to conservation is holistic for drawing attention to the need to shift to clean renewable electricity that protects local coastal ecosystems”, said Gabe Petlin, Green-e Program Manager. The partnership came about when Save The Bay began exploring sustainable alternatives for the design and construction of its Explore The Bay Education Center at Fields Point in South Providence. “This effort is a priority for Save The Bay because it addresses the importance of sustainable energy and provides our members with a way to actively support the generation of ‘clean’ electricity, thus reducing our reliance on fossil-fuel burning power plants,” said Danielle Pedreira, Implementation Coordinator for the project. “This, in turn, reduces industrial pollution and other environmental and health related problems.” According to Save the Bay, conventionally generated electricity used to power homes and businesses is one of the largest sources of industrial air pollution. Power plants using fossil fuels are the largest single source of greenhouse gas emissions responsible for global warming, acid rain, smog and respiratory lung disease. Supporting green power will make a significant difference to Rhode Island and the future health of Narragansett Bay states Save the Bay. “Consider the Brayton Point Power Plant in Somerset, Massachusetts, New England’s largest fossil fuel plant and single largest polluter of air and water,” said John Martin, Save the Bay’s Director of Marketing & Communications. “Brayton Point poses serious consequences for Narragansett Bay. Burning coal, it has consistently topped the list for air pollution emissions. Once emitted, such toxic metals can settle into the Bay and may then accumulate in fish and be passed to humans who eat them.” According to Save the Bay, Brayton Point also has been implicated in the collapse of fisheries in Mount Hope Bay, which makes up the upper northeastern arm of Narragansett Bay Fish populations there have declined by 87 percent since the mid 1980s. “Save The Bay has led a campaign since 1995 to clean up Brayton Point and to eliminate these damaging practices,” said John Torgan, Save The Bay’s Narragansett Baykeeper. “A new, stricter permit from EPA is expected this fall, but for now the pollution continues.” The organization says that supporting green power initiatives can also decrease the threat of oil spills. “Rhode Island has seen a disproportionate share of oil spills; and since the mid-1990’s, they have been extremely costly to people and the environment, harming our fragile coastline and the state’s vital fishing and seafood industries,” said Torgan. Southern New England’s most recent spill occurred April 27, 2003, when Bouchard Transportation Company’s Barge #120 hit an obstacle in Buzzards Bay in Southeastern Massachusetts spewing approximately 98,000 gallons of oil into the Bay. “The Buzzard’s Bay spill is particularly poignant, as that oil was destined for a power plant and would have only provided a very small amount of energy had it arrived safely,” said Erich Stephens of People’s Power & Light. “Meanwhile an endless amount of wind blows cleanly and safely.” Save The Bay is urging all its members and constituents to support renewable energy alternatives. It has taken up numerous efforts to promote the partnership program via a mailing to nearly 6,000 members and volunteers, information on our Web site, and mention in our recent member newsletter. An informational booth was also set up at the recent annual Citizen’s Bank/Save The Bay Swim and another is planned for the Newport Folk Festival this August. Incorporated in 1970, Save The Bay was founded to protect Narragansett Bay, which was once choked by raw sewage and industrial toxins, but is now making a comeback. Save The Bay has focused on the development of a committed constituency for the Narragansett Bay and has watched over the activities and programs of the government and the citizenry that degrade the environmental quality of the Bay, basin, and watershed.
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