Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett and Montgomery County Councilmember George Leventhal today announced that the Montgomery County Clean Energy Buyers Group, consisting of County jurisdictions and agencies, is now one of the largest green power purchasers in the nation after increasing its annual green power purchase to 161 million kilowatt-hours (kWh). The group increased its ranking to number four on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Top 20 Local Government list and Number 22 on their National Top 50 list. Montgomery County recently boosted its purchase of green energy to 30 percent of its electricity use, going well beyond its 2010 goal of 20 percent.
“Montgomery County was one of the first jurisdictions in the country to set a goal of reducing 80 percent of greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, and purchasing green power is essential to meeting that goal,” said Leggett. “The decision to purchase clean energy is vital to improving our environment, but in these difficult economic times, it also makes good business sense. I am proud to be recognized by EPA for our achievement in becoming more sustainable and reducing climate risk.”
As a member of the Council’s Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy and Environment Committee, Leventhal created and championed green energy and sustainability programs, including establishing the County’s goal of purchasing clean energy at 20 percent; establishing the Clean Energy Rewards Program that provides rebates to residents and businesses choosing to buy clean energy; and sponsoring the County’s Green Buildings legislation, which protects and improves the environment by requiring privately-constructed buildings over 10,000 square feet to be LEED certified, and county-constructed buildings to achieve a LEED-silver or equivalent rating.
“Montgomery County is a leader in the fight against global warming and we are making a difference through our clean energy purchases to cut greenhouse gases,” said Montgomery County Councilmember George Leventhal. “I am proud of the County’s efforts to do all we can on the local level to safeguard our climate and set a course for future improvements.”
The Montgomery County Clean Energy Buyers Group consists of Montgomery County Government, Montgomery County Public Schools, Montgomery College and The Maryland-National Park and Planning Commission. Also participating are the City of College Park, Chevy Chase Village, Chevy Chase Village Section 5, City of Gaithersburg, City of Rockville, City of Takoma Park, Town of Glen Echo, Town of Kensington, Town of Laytonsville and Town of Somerset.
Collectively the group is purchasing renewable energy certificates (RECs) from NextEra Energy Resources and Renewable Choice. RECs, also known as green tags, help offset or cancel out the impacts of the pollution created through a consumer’s electricity generation and support the efforts of clean energy generators to reduce pollution. Green power is electricity that is generated from environmentally preferable renewable resources, such as wind, solar, geothermal, biogas, biomass and low-impact hydro. These resources generate electricity with a net zero increase in carbon dioxide emissions, while offering a superior environmental profile compared to traditional power generation sources. Green power purchases also support the development of new renewable energy generation sources nationwide.
“EPA commends our leading Partners for their continued commitment to protecting the environment by using green power,” said Susan Wickwire, chief of EPA’s Energy Supply and Industry Branch. “By increasing its green power purchase, the Montgomery Clean Energy Buyers Group has also increased its commitment to cleaner energy, cleaner air, and fighting climate change; it is a model for other communities to follow.”
The purchase also qualifies the Buyers Group for EPA’s Green Power Leadership Club, a distinction given to organizations that have significantly exceeded EPA’s minimum purchase requirements. Green Power Leadership Club members must purchase ten times the partnership’s minimum requirement organization-wide.
According to EPA, the Montgomery County Clean Energy Buyers Group’s green power purchase is equivalent to avoiding the emissions of 114,000 metric tons carbon dioxide (CO2) or removing 22,000 passenger vehicles per year or eliminating the electricity consumption of 14,000 average American homes annually.
EPA’s Green Power Partners have completed the largest annual voluntary purchases through April 6, 2010. EPA updates its Top Partner Lists quarterly at http://www.epa.gov/greenpower/toplists/.
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