Clean Currents Wins Washington Business Journal’s Green Business of the Year Award

Posted on September 27, 2010. Filed under: News | Tags: , , |

Friday, September 24, 2010

Green Business Awards / Visionary

Winner: Clean Currents LLC

When you think of “selling wind” in Washington, you probably think of lobbyists and politicians. Yet for three area entrepreneurs, selling wind ­— the kind used for power — has created a new standard in an energy industry that has long resisted change.

Once upon a time, customers had to go through one energy company, and it dictated everything from the type of energy you could use, to the way it would be transmitted and delivered to homes.

When the energy industry deregulated, the giant companies no longer had a lock on the whole process. Customers now had more choices. But educating them about those choices, and getting them to actually make a change, would be another feat entirely.

Enter Clean Currents LLC, the brainchild of Charles Segerman, Gary Skulnik and Lee Keshishian. For each megawatt hour of energy its business and residential customers purchase from traditional coal-powered energy companies, the Rockville-based company pays a wind farm to generate a matching amount of energy to plug into its local grid. Clean Currents makes its money by entering long-term contracts with power providers with lower rates than local utilities, and reselling their power for a fee or commission.

In other words, for Clean Currents customers, their light switches work just as they always do. The only difference is that their bills are often lower, and they are now helping support the renewable energy business.

The business model does not always make for an easy explanation. “You have to explain it’s not an Internet hoax,” Segerman told the Washington Business Journal in May. “There’s so much disinformation out there.”

That power to explain and to convert customers is one of the reasons Clean Currents is a visionary in the renewable energy field. The company was one of the first to push the economic and environmental angles of the renewable energy credit business model. Even when the company’s leadership argued it could both make money and help the environment, energy company customers were resistant. They had to prove there was a market for it.

But the market eventually came around. Clean Currents now has more than 6,500 customers, which includes about 500 corporate clients. Much of that business has emerged through grassroots networking, where one neighbor tells another, who tells another, and so on.

The company has also built Clean Energy Buying Groups to allow clusters of businesses — including the U Street Business Association, the D.C. Cultural Tourism Group and the Rockville Chamber of Commerce — to band together to leverage their collective clout when purchasing green energy.

Thanks to Clean Currents, there really are winds of change.


Make a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Liked it here?
Why not try sites on the blogroll...

%d bloggers like this: