City Adds Energy to the District’s Environment
A new wind power purchasing agreement, the largest of its kind by an American city, will save District of Columbia taxpayers $45 million over the next 20 years.
The new initiative, a deal with Iberdola Renewables, LLC, went into effect on August 1st and will supply 35 percent of the District’s ’s electricity needs.
“It reduces our carbon footprint by removing roughly 100,000 tons of carbon pollution, and that’s 17 percent of our total government emissions, the equivalent of taking 125,000 cars off the road,” Mayor Bowser said during a press conference at the Frank D. Reeves Center for Municipal Affairs on August 12.
“We’re going to save taxpayers money, we’re going to make our air cleaner, and we’re going to make D.C a better place for future generations,” she added.
The agreement will supply electricity to D.C Government office buildings, as well as to other District-owned buildings such as libraries, police and fire stations, and recreation centers.
The District aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent by 2032, and 80 percent by 2050.
Barrett Stambler, vice president of Iberdrola Renewables, said the District benefits from making a 20-year contract with a fixed price because “the price of wind won’t be same today as it will be in twenty years.”
The District received over thirty proposals for the power purchasing agreement, according to Mark Chambers, the Associate Direction for the Sustainability and Energy Division at the District Department of General Services (DGS). The District chose to purchase all of Iberdrola’s output from its 46-megawatt South Chestnut wind farm, located in southwestern Pennsylvania.
“The mayor has encouraged us to be bold, and she just said ‘D.C is not a city that is in denial about the climate crisis,'” Chambers said. “This wind power purchase agreement demonstrates that our District is putting those words in definitive action,” he added.
At the same press conference, Mayor Bowser introduced Tommy Wells, who directs the agency that oversees the city’s environmental efforts. Wells officially announced that the city will change the name of the Department of the Environment (DDOE) to the Department of Energy and the Environment (DOEE). The name change will reflect the agency’s efforts to make renewable energy a priority in the District.
“It is not surprising that the District is adding the word ‘energy’ to the Department of the Environment, because so many of the environmental challenges that we face today lead directly back to how we approach the generation, consumption, and conservation of energy,” said Shawn Garvin, the Administrator for EPA’s Mid-Atlantic Region.
Garvin also noted that a reduction in carbon emissions will help reduce smog, which will lower the rate of asthma and other air quality related health issues.
“Because science tells us that climate change is real, and that human activities are fueling that change, these are the kinds of investments that we need to make to avoid the devastating impacts of climate change,” he said.
The DOEE does not just want to provide renewable energy to the District, but also seeks to find way to make that energy affordable. Wells spoke about the Department’s goal to provide solar power systems to 130 low-income families.
“We are utilizing solar power to help residents across the District lower their power bills, but we are increasing the amount of electricity we draw from renewable resources, to help protect the future of our planet,” Wells said.
According to Wells, that goal should be realized in 250 days with the help of the DC Sustainable Energy Utility (SEU). Wells said that the District will invest $6 million from the city’s Renewable Energy Development Fund to help low-income residents gain access to solar power through the National Community Solar Partnership.
“We are helping lower financial barriers and expanding renewable energy access,” Wells said.