Green Power Communities are cities, towns, and villages where the local government, businesses, and residents all commit to buy green power in amounts that meet or exceed EPA's Green Power Community purchase requirements.
Washington DC is one of the newest of 36 Green Power Communities in the US, but this has not stopped it from becoming the leading EPA Green Power Community, District officials have announced. According to a recent statement, businesses, institutions, and residents across the community are collectively purchasing nearly 756 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) of green power each year. The combined green power purchasing of residents and organisations in the District is equivalent to avoiding the carbon dioxide emissions of 102,000 passenger vehicles per year, or the electricity needed to power 65,000 average American homes annually.
Commenting on Washington DC being recognised as the number one EPA Green Power Community, Vincent Gray said: "This is a huge honour for Washington DC… We are sending a message to other communities across the country that supporting clean power is a sound business decision and the right thing to do. I'm proud that the District of Columbia government is leading the way, purchasing 50 percent of our electricity through the Washington Gas Energy Services, Inc. wind power program".
Last Friday, District leaders also kicked off a District Green Power Challenge at the District's EPA Green Power Recognition Ceremony at Phelps Career High School in northeast DC to encourage residents, businesses and organisations citywide to make the switch to green power.
33% green power by August
The first milestone in the challenge is to increase green power purchases citywide by 33% by August 31, 2011 to help the District maintain its EPA rank as America's Number 1 Green Power Community. A 33% increase would mean that District electricity users are purchasing a full 10% from green power – more than 1 billion kWh annually.
"The District of Columbia is setting an excellent example for the nation by harnessing clean energy," said Elizabeth Craig, Acting Director of EPA's Office of Atmospheric Programs. "We hope the city will continue to increase its use of green power and that other communities will follow suit."
Green power is electricity that is generated from environmentally-preferable renewable resources, such as wind, solar, geothermal, biogas, biomass, and low-impact hydroelectric power. Purchasing green power helps accelerate development of new renewable energy capacity and reduce air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from electric generation.
"Our leap as a city toward using green, renewable energy demonstrates just how committed we are to cleaner air and a healthier environment," says Christophe Tulou, Director of the District Department of the Environment. "With a quick phone call or a few clicks of the mouse, any electric customer can make a real difference and contribute to the greening of our city and world."
The DowntownDC Business Improvement District (BID) is one of 71 EPA Green Power Partner organizations committed to purchasing green power. "This is one of many initiatives the DowntownDC BID is launching this year to create a downtown ecodistrict," said DowntownDC BID Executive Director Richard Bradley. "We are incredibly excited to demonstrate how easy it is to join the Green Power Challenge and to do our part to generate interest among other businesses and buildings to purchase green power."
The Green Power Partnership is a voluntary program that encourages organisations to buy green power to reduce the environmental impacts of electricity use. The Partnership currently has more than 1,300 Partner organisations who purchase more than 17 billion kilowatt-hours of green power each year. Partners include a wide variety of leading organizations such as Fortune 500 companies, small and medium sized businesses, local, state, and federal governments, and colleges and universities.
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