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Solar City is Putting on the Ritz

Posted on July 11, 2011. Filed under: Uncategorized |

We have always been a fan of what Solar City is doing, but they have really outdone themselves with this new promotion. You now can save $1000 right off the bat when you sign up for solar on-site generation for your home! Check it out at www.solarcleancurrents.com or call 1-888-884-9437 if you’re interested!

Switching to solar will most likely lower your electricity bill. This even takes into account the solar lease option that Solar City offers. However, you will most likely still have a electric bill, which makes wind power a great choice for going 100% green! 

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Drivers Beware of Europe

Posted on June 28, 2011. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Several European countries are in the process of making driving miserable. Though the joy of driving on the autobahn may stay the same, the feeling in your stomach when filling up at the pump may make you sick. Nations have levied a tax on gasoline to account for environmental and health problems associated with the greenhouse gases that are emitted from automobiles. Along with being expensive, large European cites are closing scores of streets to car traffic. Germany has instituted “environmental zones” in which only cars with low carbon emissions are allowed to enter. Cites have continued to welcome new development but have allowed extremely low amounts of parking. An extreme example is the European Environmental Agency, which has 150 spaces for bicycles, and one parking spot. One handicapped parking spot. The Europeans, who in recent history have always been more environmentally conscious than Americans, have upped the ante.

This may sound severe, but it makes sense. Many European countries realized that they could never achieve the standards set forth by the Kyoto protocols without curbing driving. Driving is polluting, and it sometimes may take more than just a monetary incentive to get people out of cars. However, they are not leaving would-be drivers on the curb, with miles to go to their desired location. Public transportation is much more efficient in Europe. Cities have started bike sharing programs (with varied success), and trams, buses and trains have become much more popular.

Carless households have increased 5 percent in the last decade, and statistics show that drivers use their cars less, reducing carbon emissions. It is hard to imagine an America with less cars, but it may not be such a bad place. Cities need to start getting serious about climate change, because even though not every city will be affected as much by consequences such as natural disaster, the urban heat islands created by global warming could make cities much less pleasant to live in. This, and of course pollution may make similar policies on car use in America desirable. Some statistics even show that America may have reached its peak car usage. Whatever the reason is, the Europeans are right on this one. The U.S.’s need to decrease it’s reliance on fossil fuels, and though this is continuation of a theme that has riddled political debates for decades, this is a surefire way of doing just that.

More on this subject:

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/27/science/earth/27traffic.html?pagewanted=1&ref=earth

http://www.treehugger.com/files/2011/06/peak-car-use-already-here.php

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Mixed Feelings after AEP v. Connecticut Ruling

Posted on June 21, 2011. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Here at Clean Currents we stay on top of anything in the energy policy arena. When the news broke about the AEP v. Connecticut ruling our conversations about case came back to the same basic word – difficult. This is an extremely tough situation. The basic premise of the lawsuit was: should states be allowed to sue power companies for the damage their greenhouse gas emissions have done to their land and citizens in the form of global warming? The states sued on the same idea that allows you to sue your neighbor for contaminated water seepage on your property. The answer came back, unanimously, in favor of the power companies. Though we are not exactly at ease with brown power getting yet another break from government, we understand this one. It is essentially impossible to measure who the exact perpetrator of global warming is. Truthfully, though brown power has a huge role in the emission of greenhouse gasses, but so do thousands of other industries, not to mention cars. This becomes even more complicated when one factors in all the other countries in the world that are also responsible for the phenomenon.

However, the case was not all bad. There was a lot of discussion about the  ramifications of carbon emissions and though the energy companies technically won the lawsuit, another winner also emerged, the EPA. States not being able to regulate carbon emissions means that the EPA has more power to step in to do the job. The agency has already proposed limits on green house gases (GHG) starting this year. However, at the moment, these limits are only in place for newer, modified power plants, not the older dirtier plants which were originally targeted by the lawsuit. Still, this is a step in the right direction.

There is a serious problem with the EPA being the sole regulator of GHG’s. The EPA is a government agency and its management is appointed. This mean that a new political administration could drastically reduce the effectiveness of the EPA’s regulating power. However, at least for the moment this can also be seen as a good thing since it clearly defines who is in charge of dealing with GHG issues. The ideas behind the case are very provoking though, since there are serious questions that will soon have to be addressed about GHG emissions and whether contributing enormously or at all to global warming is legally a crime.

This argument is something we at clean currents take seriously every day as we try help the our constituents leave as little of a carbon footprint as possible through providing clean, renewable wind power. However we understand this is not enough, so we strive to cut down carbon emissions in our company and with our customers by encouraging things such as carpooling, and energy efficient light bulbs. We understand that though choosing a clean energy provider can make a large difference in the world, it is going to take more than that to win the battle against climate change.

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The Rise of the Benefit Corporation

Posted on June 13, 2011. Filed under: Uncategorized |

The corporate nature in the United States can be called a lot of things. Cut-throat and dog-eat dog are some words that come to my mind. What happened to the for-profit companies that used to care for its employees and community? What happened to the mission statements for organizations that wanted to change the world for the better? I found my answer in two words; profit maximization. The increased competition from the increased number of players in the for-profit world as a result of globalization has spurred an era of lean manufacturing. A normal C-class corporation can be sued by shareholders for not pursuing methods of profit maximization. Many companies have to cut costs as much as possible to maintain their competitive edge.

In doing this many have lost track of values that once were embodied by every individual in an organization, and now appear only as feeble attempts for companies to boost their PR. Doing the right thing is no longer the right thing to do to make a profit, and it shows. It can be seen in companies such as Enron, Lehman Brothers, Exxon Mobile, BP, Blackwater, AIG to name a  few. Corporations have taken to reckless behavior in search of short term, quarter to quarter profits.

America needs planners. Corporations that understand that it is not about the short term. Profits can come at a constant rate and the glory (and power) of making the S&P 500 does not have to be the backbone of the organization. Organizations that realize that there is more than money in this world, and the true nature of a business should emerge from one simple concept; making the world a better place. Essentially, companies that care.

This need has spurred the rise of the Benefit-Corporation (B-Corp). This type of corporation has been written into law in several states (Maryland, New Jersey, Vermont and Virginia) and other states are quickly following suit. This type of corporation focuses on being socially responsible along with pursuing methods of profit maximization. They must pass a series of conditions that to achieve B-Corp status, mostly having to do with community outreach and employee treatment. The most important difference between B-Corps and C-Corps is that shareholders cannot sue a B-Corp for not conducting business in a manner that maximizes shareholder equity because it is understood that is not the sole purpose of these corporation.

B-Corps are becoming increasingly popular because they are taking root right here in the United States. They are providing community outreach that is more than just a PR effort, it is the way the business is run. Most of these businesses are small, progressive, and local which provides a stark comparison to companies that normally come to mind (such as Wal-mart and Exxon Mobile) who are large, profit seeking, and extremely content with the status quo.

The truth is that B-corps are the way of the future. A study from Princeton University shows that the the “link between income and happiness is mainly an illusion.”  After a certain income level, the quality of life indicators show that happiness comes from other factors. Having a plethora of socially responsible companies will increase the quality of life for Americans across income levels. This is is how we can help make a more cohesive, better society.

Clean Currents is honored to be the first registered B-Corporation in Maryland. Helping the communities in Maryland, Pennsylvania and the District of Columbia through community outreach as well as supplying clean wind power are our priorities. Clean Currents is on what is hopefully the start of a wave of B-corps that will change the business landscape back to what it should be, focused on the consumer in a holistic sense, not just in a monetary sense.

( read more at http://www.princeton.edu/main/news/archive/S15/15/09S18/index.xml?section=topstories
and http://www.thenation.com/article/161261/rise-benefit-corporations)

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*Update* on Pepco’s Reliability Woes

Posted on May 5, 2011. Filed under: Uncategorized |

UPDATE 5/5/2011:

HB 391/SB 692 was passed by the Maryland General Assembly before the end of the session.  See Gary’s legislative round up post for more details.

Also, you can read the recommendations of a Montgomery County Pepco Work Group which produced a 200+ page report with community and expert input and recommendations for Pepco.  (Read back-story HERE)

The main conclusion of the report was: the number and duration of outages in the Pepco territory is ABOVE the acceptable norm and is getting worse over time.

However, the work group also pointed to communication issues between the County and Pepco, as well as inadequate oversight by the PSC as key issues.

The main recommendation was for Pepco to develop and execute a comprehensive  multi-year improvement plan with the impetus of serious financial incentives and consequences from the PSC and others to align the utility’s priorities with that of the community.  Hopefully, the newly passed state legislation will do just that.

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Good Food, Good Times and a Great Earth Day

Posted on April 25, 2011. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Clean Currents and the Commissary Celebrate Earth Day

Last Friday April 22nd, Clean Currents and The Commissary teamed up to educate hungry customers on how they can make the switch to wind energy at their homes like The Commissary has done.

Since 2008 when the Commissary switch to 100 % wind power, they have estimated to reduce over 1 million pounds of carbon dioxide which is equivalent to burning 50,000 gallons of gasoline.  As part of the Earth Day celebration the Commissary gave customers discounts for bringing in reusable bags and coffee mugs. Clean Currents also gave customers a $15 dollar gift certificate to the restaurant for those that sign up before May 1.

On left Commissary bar Manager Joe, on the Right Green Neighborhood Challenge leader Gregory Taylor sipping a Clean Currents Cosmo specially created for this event.

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Riding into the Wind

Posted on April 11, 2011. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Climate Ride COUNTDOWN: 32 days!

For anyone who has never been out on an all-day ride just for the fun of it – let me say it is a wonderful experience. This is my new favorite weekend activity! The simplicity of riding on a trail with friends, enjoying the fresh air and scenery while boosting those endorphins just can’t be beat 🙂

It’s 7 weeks into training and can’t believe how much I’m enjoying myself. This is the first time I’ve had to train for anything long-distance and I’ve probably done as much cycling in the past couple months as I have my entire life! Thank goodness I’m not the only one who is trying this out for the first time. There is a large group of registered Climate Riders around DC and some of us have gotten together a few times for groups rides. These people are so energized and are helping keeping me motivated and excited about the big challenge ahead of us.

Here are some photos of the group I rode with along the Washington & Old Dominion trail from Vienna, VA to Leesburg, VA. The ride was 25 miles each way and included a stop for lunch. Most of us did not know one another before this outing. Now I can’t wait to ride with these awesome people again soon!

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Yesterday, I completed a 30 mile ride to Mt. Vernon, Virginia and am feeling more comfortable and confident on the road bike each time I’m on it. The weekend before last was my first ride using clip-in shoes and pedals. A little nerve racking at first when you consider the new falling risk – but definitely helps you go faster and straight forward enough to get used to.

Training is just part of the challenge – we must each also raise $2,400 in order to participate. Clean Currents is being extremely supportive in this endeavor. Not only are they working to get the word out, but they have also purchased a brand new bike so that anyone who donates to me can be entered in a drawing to win it!

Along the ride I will be representing Clean Currents as much as possible. Since I’m riding with Team 350, we will have the entire team wearing “Get Plugged In” T-shirts one day of the ride. I will also be given an opportunity to speak to the group about the ease and benefits of supporting wind power.

Now that there’s just over a month left, it’s time to start thinking more about the gear I’ll need (we’ll be camping out multiple nights).

Awesome people + being outdoors + promoting our environment = PURE JOY! 

If you would like to contribute to the cause, please visit my donation page:
http://climateride.donordrive.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=donorDrive.participant&participantID=1216

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Biking 300 Miles for The Climate!

Posted on March 17, 2011. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Hi everyone! Kristin Schulz here – Clean Currents’ Residential Outreach Coordinator.
 
On behalf of Clean Currents and with the future of our beautiful planet in mind, I have decided to participate in this year’s Climate Ride – a 300 mile bike ride from New York City to Washington DC! The event is helping raise money and awareness to support the environment. Although it will definitely be a challenge (I’m no cyclist…yet) – I’m excited to take this on because it will be an incredible adventure and a wonderful way to support a better environment. 

A couple weeks ago I started training – I’ll have to be able to complete 60 miles each day for 5 days! The journey will take place May 13th-17th, so I’m working hard to get ready. My rides have been fun so far since I’m meeting some of the other climate riders and discovering beautiful trails around Washington, DC.
 
This is going to be an unforgettable experience so I want to share my stories with you along the way. I’ll be representing Clean Currents the entire way by tweeting and blogging throughout the ride. Follow me @cleancurrents and get updates from all the riders at http://www.climateridelive.org/ and on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/climateride.

My fundraising goal is $2,400. Proceeds from the Climate Ride support important projects at a collection of nine organizations focused on green jobs, clean energy, climate education, and bicycle infrastructure. Any support you can give would be greatly appreciated! See my donation page: http://climateride.donordrive.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=donorDrive.participant&eventID=501&participantID=1216
 
Hope you enjoy following me on my ride!

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Inside Scoop on This Congress and The Climate

Posted on March 15, 2011. Filed under: Events, News, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Today, Clean Currents hosted another free, educational webinar. Check out the PowerPoint presentation and feel free to comment:  Inside Scoop on This Congress and Climate Change.

Three fabulous speakers joined us to lend their insights on what to expect from the 112th congress on legislation and policy related to climate issues.

Nancy Gonzalez of the Alliance to Save Energy outlined the political climate in the House and the Senate including the new members of committees with the power to influence energy legislation. Despite the bleak outlook for progress on energy issues with the current congressional makeup, Nancy noted the effectiveness of momentum on the grassroots level and encouraged expansion of local initiatives. 

Jason Kowalski of 1Sky provided a number of powerful images demonstrating how the US’s politics and the coal industry are intimately intertwined. Jason reinforced the concept of effective grassroots activism by discussing a few strong examples, while also mentioning their limitations in competing with well-financed attack campaigns.  

Ted Glick from The Chesapeake Climate Action Network (CCAN) gave us an update on both regional and federal environmental legislation. In Maryland, the focus is on passing the Offshore Wind bill. In fact, you are invited to attend the rally in Annapolis on March 21st to support the bill:  https://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/423/p/salsa/event/common/public/?event_KEY=66884. Despite a short legislative session, Virginia could be making headway on both solar and offshore wind. In DC, CCAN is working to get the Cap & Dividend approach passed on the federal level. 

At first glance, one may not expect much in the way of climate legislation from the current Congress, but these groups highlighted that groups and individuals can still make a difference in pushing through environmentally friendly policies – especially on the local level. To learn more about these organizations and how to get involved in their grassroots initiatives, visit:
http://ase.org
www.1sky.org
www.chesapeakeclimate.org

Clean Currents is also supporting grassroots initiatives via our Green Neighborhood Challenge. Contact Kristin Schulz at kschulz@cleancurrents.com to learn how to get your group involved!

 To sign up for Clean Currents’ wind powered electricity option and to learn more about our Green Neighborhood Challenge, visit: www.cleancurrents.com.

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Effectively Educating on Climate Change

Posted on January 12, 2011. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Today Clean Currents hosted its first webinar of 2011. Three wonderful guest speakers joined us to discuss the theme: “Effectively Educating on Climate Change”.

Lori Wark, founder and editor of the website www.adventures-in-climate-change.com, spoke about connecting individuals to the fun and interesting aspects of environmental science through internet technology.

Daisy Pistey-Lyhne, Senior Educator with Alliance for Climate Education, discussed how to engage young people in learning and doing something about climate change.

Linda Schuck is a Senior Advisor and Director of the Behavior, Energy and Climate Change Project at California Institute for Energy and the Environment (CIEE). Schuck explained that while we can never truly understand exactly how individuals are motivated to change his or her behavior, there is a great deal of research regarding the economics and social norms that influence people on a daily basis. Understanding these social phenomena can help us be more effective communicators about climate change and environmental issues in general.

See the PowerPoint Presentation here: Effectively Educating on Climate Change
Or email us for the recorded file of the Webinar: gogreen@cleancurrents.com

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