Breaking News: Montgomery County Passes Nation’s first Carbon Tax

Posted on May 19, 2010. Filed under: Events | Tags: , , , , , |

Its official: today, the Montgomery County Council passed a carbon tax bill- the first of its kind in the United States! The bill, proposed by County Councilman Roger Berliner, taxes stationary emitters in Montgomery County that release more than one million tons of co2 into the atmosphere annually. Currently, there is only one such emitter- a coal plant owned by Mirant Corporation. At a hearing yesterday, Mirant Corporation officials spoke against the legislation claiming it would only lead to rate hikes for consumers. However, Councilman Berliner said the $5/ton tax would not have an impact on ratepayers for numerous reasons.  This amount is marginal compared to the profits Mirant makes from the facility. The tax revenues will go to funding clean energy and other programs that are facing funding cuts during tough budgetary conditions.

Amanda Duzak and Gary Skulnik, Clean Currents resident activists were at yesterday’s hearing supporting the bill and the testimonies of CCAN’s Mike Tidwell and other advocates. Also present at the hearing were a rowdy group of tea party protestors in support of Mirant. These protestors denied climate change was happening. However, when asked about Mirant’s stance on climate change, the Mirant representative could not deny it, creating a real rhetorical problem for the tea party protestors.

For more about Mirant see here.

UPDATE 5-20-2010: More info in CCAN’s press release, plus Montgomery County makes Environmental Leader’s top daily headline!

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MD General Assembly Passes Bill to Boost Solar RPS

Posted on April 14, 2010. Filed under: News | Tags: , , , |

Early this week, the Maryland General Assembly passed the bill supported by Governor O’Malley to ramp up the state’s  Solar Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS). Under the renewable portfolio standard law that was passed in Maryland in 2007, utilities have to supply a certain amount of their energy from solar and other renewables or pay an Alternative Compliance Payment (ACP). The bill that passed earlier this week will increase the solar carve out of the RPS to .5% by 2016. It will also maintain a $400 ACP through 2014 (in the original legislation the ACP decline gradually to $250 by 2014).

The higher ACP is good news for those considering solar installations as they will be able to recieve more money for their Solar Renewable Energy Credits and reduce the payback time on this investment!

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DC Law Requires Commercial Buildings to Track Energy Use

Posted on December 22, 2009. Filed under: News | Tags: , , , , , |

Environmental Leader reports on a new requirement of the DC Clean and Affordable Energy Act, which takes effect next week. The law was passed in 2008 and requires owners of commerical properties in Washington, DC to track their energy use starting January 1, 2010.

The legislation is meant to give owners and tenants easy access to energy use information which will be measured with the help of the EPA’s Energy Star Manager tool. Armed with this information, tenants and owners will be able to increase energy efficiency and cut back energy use.

According to the Department of Energy, buildings are responsible for 70% of US energy consumption and are responsible for 40% of US greenhouse gas emissions. Another telling statistic from the World Business Council for Sustainable Development:

“Buildings account for 40 percent of the world’s energy use with the resulting carbon emissions substantially more than those in the transportation sector.”

DC is leading the way for energy efficient buildings and is currently ranked 4th nationally for Energy Star Rated Buildings. This type of energy efficiency legislation exists in California and Washington state and is being discussed in New York city, though building owners there oppose the plan calling the requirements, “cost prohibitive”.

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Eco Kids Fighting Climate Change in Britain

Posted on December 16, 2009. Filed under: News | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

Here’s an interesting listen from today’s NPR Morning Edition. The story is about kids in British schools taking the lead in fighting climate change by learning about the topic and designing programs to cut their own carbon footprint. The students are supported by the Eco-Schools program which helps get kids involved as eco-reps that track energy use, encourage sustainable commuting and promote recycling. Also mentioned in the story were schools making use of renewable energy including wind and solar for on-site, clean power generation. Another idea for the teenage crowd carbon dating–students meet up and go on low carbon dates such as taking bike rides or eating local vegetarian food.

As the story points out, this type of action is not a substitute for clear government policy to cut carbon emissions. Still, education early on helps make low carbon living a natural habit for kids and is changing the mindset of future generations towards environmental stewardship.

Schools in our area are also working to integrate climate change and renewable energy into their curriculum. Earlier this week, Clean Currents attended the  unveiling of a 111KW solar installation at the Bullis School in Potomac, MD. Not only will the installation provide 20% of the electricity needs for the Blair Arts Center, the largest building on the Bullis campus, but it will also serve as a learning tool to teach kids about solar power and climate change. Here’s a video from Monday’s event:

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Powered by Clean Currents: Solar Installation Continues at Bullis School

Posted on November 30, 2009. Filed under: News | Tags: , , , |

As the Gazette reports, the Bullis School of Potomac, MD has already been recognized as the top individual school green power purchaser, and now the school is stepping up its committment to clean energy by installing a 110.7 kw solar system on the roof of their arts building. Before Thanksgiving, the Clean Currents crew unloaded 540 panels and hoisted them on the roof with a crane. Now the team is in the process of installing the panels and hope to have the project completed by the end of the week.

Once the installation is complete, the system will provide about 20% of the building’s electricity. To finance the $700,000 project, Bullis is working with Washington Gas and Energy Services (WGES). WGES gets tax benefits from the project, and Bullis has agreed to purchase back the power generated by the system from WGES at an established rate for 20 years.

Students that walked by the arts building were definitely interested in what the giant crane was unloading on the roof. Soon physics students in Brittany Reed’s class will get a chance to learn more about how the panels work and even monitor the sunlight absorbed through a computer program. According to Reed,

“The idea is to get them to see that what we’re learning is more than just equations and problems we see on a sheet, that there’s actually real world applications for them…They always want to know, ‘Why do we care about this?’ This is one thing we have at our school that gives us that connection.”


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MD, DE and VA Governors Sign Offshore Wind Agreement

Posted on November 12, 2009. Filed under: Events, News | Tags: , , , , , , , |

Back in September, Maryland announced that it was considering plans for offshore wind development. Now, it seems like the initiative is moving forward in cooperation with its neighbors. Tuesday, the Governors of Delaware, Maryland and Virginia signed a Memorandum of Understanding establishing a partnership for offshore wind development off their coasts.

The Governor’s discussed the benefits of offshore wind from the environmental and economic points of view. Governor O’Malley commented,

“Our states share many common resources and opportunities.  This collaboration will allow us to take full advantage of these opportunities and pool our collective abilities for not only a Smart, Green and Growing Maryland, but a cleaner and more sustainable region as well.”

Governor Kaine of Virginia and Governor Markell emphasized the necesssity to create jobs in these tough economic times and highlighted the potential of offshore wind development to create these opportunities.

The MOU is a step towards harnessing offshore wind power to create sustainable energy supply and green jobs for the three states. The key priorities of the agreement are:

  • Identify common transmission options for offshore wind
  • Develop strategies to encourage market demand for offshore wind power
  • Seek federal resources to develop offshore wind by working together.

Other points of the agreement:

  • Coordinate regional supply chain facilities to secure supply, deployment, and operations and maintenance functions to support offshore wind energy facilities,
  • Work with academic institutions in all three states to build capacity for wind related jobs.
And on a related note (sort of)… here is Governor O’Malley with Clean Currents Solar Business Development Associate, Katherine. The picture is from CCAN’s Climate Leaders Award Ceremony where the Governor recieved the Climate Leadership Award for his support of the Maryland Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Act, which passed earlier this year.
Governor O'Malley with Katherine from Clean Currents

Governor O'Malley with Katherine from Clean Currents

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Great Opportunity for Rockville Businesses: Green Power Buying Group

Posted on November 10, 2009. Filed under: Events, News | Tags: , , , , |

Rockville Town Center, Image from Cool Town Studios

Yesterday’s post focused on the “buy local” movement and how it applied to energy generation. The city of Rockville, Maryland has promoted the local trend with a “buy Rockville” campaign to boost local businesses. On Wednesdays through November, the city center featured an “out to lunch” farmer’s market to showcase local producers. Now, Clean Currents and the Rockville Chamber of Commerce are working together to help local businesses buy green power. Though the power is not locally produced, it brings local businesses together to make a positive environmental impact.

By purchasing power together, businesses that take part in the green power buying group will be able to take advantage of competitive bulk rates. Members will also recieve a discount on solar installations and energy efficiency audits from Clean Currents, allowing them to further their committment to green.

Gary Skulnik, President of Clean Currents, had this to say about the new green power buying group:

“As a Rockville business, we are proud that our local chamber is the first chamber in the state to recognize the need to switch to green energy…there’s a lot of talk about helping the environment, but the businesses and people in this city are taking concrete steps to truly make Rockville green.”

Andrea Jolly, from the Rockville Chamber of Commerce stated:

“We welcome the chance to help our members protect their bottom line, support the chamber, and protect the planet by working with Clean Currents”

Is your business interested? Come to the informational meeting for the first buying group, Nov. 19 at the Chevy Chase Suites Hotel.  Register at the Rockville Chamber of Commerce website.   

See the press release on the Clean Currents website.

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Clean Currents is Making News!

Posted on October 28, 2009. Filed under: News | Tags: , , , , , , |

Yesterday was a big news day here at Clean Currents!

In the afternoon, we posted a press release about 5 of our school customers making the EPA’s Green Power Partnership Top 20 Green Power Purchasing list. Clean Currents supplies the Bullis School, the top individual school on the list with 100% clean power as well as the Norwood School, the Green Acres School, the Sheridan School, and the Evergreen School which also made the top 20 list. Clean Currents has made an effort to reach out to local schools in order to help them promote sustainable living and education to teach kids from an early age about environmental issues and climate change. Another cool fact: by buying green power, the 5 area schools are effectively taking 600 cars off the road!

Also, Kristi Neidhart, our residential program coordinator was interviewed on NPR about our Green Neighborhood Effect Program. The interview featured, Matt Berres, a Greenbelt resident who switched to Clean Currents to save money and support wind power.  The interview aired this morning on WAMU 88.5 All Things Considered and if you missed it, you can listen to it online.


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Green Neighborhood Effect Delivers its First Check to Greenbelt Community Foundation

Posted on October 21, 2009. Filed under: News | Tags: , , , , |


From left: Co-Chairs of the Greenbelt Community Foundation Advisory Board: Sylvia Lewis & Emmett V. Jordan; Manager, Maintenance Operations, Greenbelt Homes Inc: Matt Barres and Clean Current's Residential Green Power Manager Kristi Neidhardt

Clean Currents Green Neighborhood Effect has swept over Greenbelt! Yesterday, the program awarded the Greenbelt Community Foundation, a pilot neighborhood in the program with a check for $1200. The Green Neighborhood Effect works by giving back a $10 donation for any residential windpower sign-up with a registered community in 45 day window. A community can be a neighborhood, school, place of worship, workplace, etc and can register for the program here.  The community has 45 days to get as many people as possible to sign up and the donated funds must be put toward a green community project to be completed by Earth Day, 2010.

Gary Skulnik, President of Clean Currents described the program in yesterday’s press release

“We believe this program is an opportunity for a triple win situation for residential power users…not only will customers save money by switching to wind energy, they play a part in solving the problem of pollution and global warming by making the switch to wind power while gaining funds to green their community”

Gretchen Overduff, General Manager at Greenbelt Homes Inc, which runs the Greenbelt Community Foundation, echoed Gary’s comments,

“When we learned about the ‘Green Neighborhood Effect’ program, it was an obvious way to switch homes in our community to green energy.  We reduced the carbon footprint of the neighborhood, helped individual energy users save money AND raised money for the Greenbelt Community Foundation.”

Although Greenbelt hasn’t decided what to do with the funds, they are considering a number of green projects to improve their community. For other communities joining the Green Neighborhood Effect, Clean Currents can help plan and execute a project and support the sign-up effort by speaking at community meetings and providing printed information to hand out in the community or blurbs for neighborhood list-serves. And of course, we’ll profile cool community projects on our blog and in the newsletter so your community will get some green press !

 Get started with your community today!

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MD Business Leaders Condemn the US Chamber of Commerce’s Climate Stance

Posted on October 15, 2009. Filed under: News | Tags: , , , |

We’ve been following the flood of resignations from the US Chamber of Commerce as a result of the organization’s climate policy, that started with a few utilities making the decision to not renew their memberships last month.  Most recently, consumer goods companies such as Apple, Nike and Levi Strauss and Company have also taken a stance.

Today, local business leaders in spoke out against the Chamber’s climate policy in Takoma Park, Maryland.

Gary Skulnik, President of Clean Currents, expressed his views about climate legislation and the Chamber’s policy:

“Every business talks ‘green’ these days, but the real test of a green commitment is where a business stands on supporting progressive environmental legislation at the state or national level…Clean Currents is proud to stand firmly in the true green camp in supporting serious legislation to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change, as opposed to the U.S. Chamber and its head-in-the-sand approach.”

Representatives from groSolar, Biohabitats, and Sustainable Urban Infrastructures offered similar comments condeming the position of the US Chamber of Commerce and voicing their firm committment to climate legislation that would match the urgency and severity of the environmental problem at hand.

According to a Chesapeake Climate Action Network press release, the US Chamber of Commerce has opposed every piece of climate legislation proposed in Congress and has  spent $26 million on lobbying congress in the first half of 2009, which is double the amount spent by the next highest lobbyist, ExxonMobil.

Headlines from The Onion (Image from Climate Progress)

Headlines from The Onion (Image from Climate Progress)

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