Plants plug into green power

An Environmental Protection Agency program Program is designed to drive development of renewable energy sources.

By Ken Schnepf, managing editor

In just a few days, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will announce the quarterly update of its national top 25 list of green power purchasers. The new list will reflect purchases completed by December 31. The EPA says the point of the list is that the actions of those on it help drive development of new renewable energy sources.

Green power is electricity generated from environment-friendly sources such as solar, wind, geothermal, biogas, biomass and low-impact hydro.By choosing green power, homes, businesses and governments support development of cleaner forms of power generation and reduce their environmental impact. As more green power is developed, the overall environmental effects associated with electricity generation will be reduced.

Combined, the top 25 purchasers on the previous list bought nearly 4.7 billion kWh of green power annually, according to the EPA. That’s enough renewable energy to power 378,000 homes for a  year.

The EPA’s Green Power Partnership is a voluntary program to help increase the use of green power. Among the last quarter’s top 25 l are Johnson and Johnson at number five with 330 million kWh, and DuPont at number seven with 170 million kWh.

“We are proud to be on the EPA's Top 25 list,” says Linda Fisher, DuPont vice president and chief sustainability officer. “Purchasing green power helps us improve our environmental performance, increase demand for renewable resources and send a clear message that using cleaner sources of electricity is a sound business decision.”

Johnson & Johnson is the only green power purchaser to earn a Green Power Leadership Award in three consecutive years. This year, the company bolstered its environmental stewardship efforts by again significantly expanding its renewable energy commitment (REC).

Within the past year, it has more than doubled 2003 procurements of 102,000 MWh to bring its total renewable energy procurement of green energy purchases and on-site solar projects to 214,000 MWh.This makes Johnson & Johnson the largest corporate renewable energy purchaser in the United States. The company has committed to reducing carbon dioxide emissions to 7% below 1990 levels by 2010 in absolute terms, and believes green power will play a major role in achieving that target.

The U.S. Air Force is the largest purchaser of green power in the nation at 1.043 billion kWh in the past quarter.

The Green Power Partnership works with hundreds of leading organizations, including Fortune 500 companies, manufacturers and retailers, trade associations, and local, state and federal government agencies, as well as colleges and universities.

Fossil fuel-fired power plants are responsible for 67% of the nation's sulfur dioxide emissions, 23% of nitrogen oxide emissions, and 40% of man-made carbon dioxide emissions, says the EPA. Also, power plants are the main source of mercury emissions in the United States. Generating electricity using renewable energy offers an alternative with zero or significantly lower emissions.

“Voluntarily switching to renewable energy sources, EPA’s environmental partners are showing that it is easy – and rewarding – being green,” says Stephen Johnson, EPA administrator.

There are a number of online resources available at www.epa.gov/greenpower/. Among them is a step-by-step green power purchase process including types of products, choosing a purchasing scope, and procurement methods. The green power locator directs you to renewable energy sources in your state, complete with contact information for the companies providing the energy. For example, Missouri has 25 providers that offer wind, solar, biomass, hydro, geothermal, methane and bioenergy alternatives.

The Power Profiler calculates air emissions associated with electricity consumption by entering your ZIP code and current electrical load. There also is information on how to join the program, a partner list, the top partners, award winners, partner resources and links.

Still another bit of useful online information is the downloadable brochure, “EPA’s Green Power Partnership: An Environmental Choice for Your Organization.” The brochure provides information about the partnership, benefits of green power, and how to join.

Another way to get information about the program is to contact Blaine Collison of the partnership at (202) 343-9139 or collision.blaine@epa.gov.

E-mail Managing Editor Ken Schnepf at kschnepf@putman.net.

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