Fifth Largest Retail Purchase of Wind Power

Maryland’s Montgomery County announced the fifth largest retail purchase of wind power in U.S. history, enough to supply 5% of the electricity to Montgomery and Prince George’s County government buildings, schools, and assorted agencies.

Washington DC – May 20, 2004 [SolarAccess.com] Montgomery County is taking the lead in a purchasing consortium of local governments, including Prince George’s County, six County agencies, and 11 municipalities. The group is to purchase green tags equal to 5% of its total electricity demand generated from the Mountaineer Wind Farm in West Virginia through Community Energy, Inc. Matt Clouse, director of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Green Power Partnership, praised the County for its role as a national leader. “Montgomery County’s purchase makes it the largest municipal purchaser of retail wind power,” he said. “Fortunately for the environment, more and more farsighted organizations are switching to green power.” Mike Tidwell of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network estimates that the purchase will produce a carbon dioxide reduction equivalent to planting 2.9 million trees. The wind-power purchase could help Maryland and the region comply with its responsibility under the Clean Air Act to reduce local air pollution. In this case, the state of Maryland will award renewable energy set-aside allowances to the wind power projects in the region, which will transfer to Montgomery County proportionally for the amount of wind power purchased. Montgomery County will then retire those allowances, reducing the overall amount of nitrogen oxides (NOx) emitted in the region. In addition to reductions in ozone-causing NOx, this wind energy purchase will reduce pollutants that are not regulated, such as mercury and carbon dioxide (CO2), a key greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change. The Washington Council of Governments (Wash-COG) has submitted a state implementation plan (SIP) that includes wind power purchases as an approved air pollution mitigation method. If approved by the EPA, it will become the first case in the U.S. in which wind power purchases by a local government are credited for reducing air emissions under a regional air quality plan. Officials estimate that the purchase will cost the consortium $575,000 more per year than its members otherwise would have spent, but Montgomery County believes that that cost can be offset by conservation efforts. Montgomery County Council member George L. Leventhal (D-At Large) estimated that Montgomery County alone would spend about $110,000 for the wind power, but could expect to save $250,000 per year through basic conservation measures. Information courtesy of AWEA’s Wind Energy Weekly
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