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Quick and Dirty

Wind Warriors

By Ralph Brave | Posted 8/10/2005

A resolution urging the city of Baltimore to purchase 5 percent of its electricity from no-emissions-producing renewable resources located within the “air shed” of the city passed out of committee on Aug. 4. The bill is headed for a vote by the full City Council on Aug. 15. Sponsored by Councilman James Kraft (D-1st District), the nonbinding resolution passed on a 3-0 vote, with three members of the Education, Housing, Health, and Human Services Committee absent. The city spends more than $30 million annually on electric bills for its municipal buildings and infrastructure.

Montgomery County Executive Douglas Duncan sent a letter to Mayor Martin O’Malley two days before the council’s vote, urging him to support the bill. Both men are seeking the Democratic nomination for governor in 2006. Duncan’s letter touted his own county’s adoption of a 5 percent renewables policy last year, “making [us] the largest municipal purchaser of wind energy in the country.” Montgomery and its other county and municipal purchasing partners contracted for 38,400 megawatt hours of wind power for $575,000 in 2004, says Ann Elfen, energy planner for Montgomery County.

But even before the Kraft bill was introduced, Baltimore was moving toward renewables. On July 28 the city’s Board of Estimates, of which the mayor is a member, approved a $14,490 contract for 630 megawatt hours of wind power. The wind energy purchased by both the city and Montgomery County is generated by the wind turbines of the same company, Community Energy of Wayne, Pa.

Neither Baltimore nor Montogomery County directly receives the energy derived from these wind purchases, which are put into a regional pool of electricity purchases. The purchases are intended to reduce the amount of coal-produced power needed in the region, thereby reducing the pollutants that blow in from coal plants in West Virginia and Pennsylvania.

Likewise, Kraft says he’s confident his bill will be well received.

“I think this resolution will pass the full council,” he says. “I can’t really see who would be opposed to it.”

Kraft says he intends to follow this up with another resolution for Baltimore to become “Kyoto compliant,” referring to the international Kyoto Protocol. Member nations of the Kyoto treaty agree to work toward a significant reduction of greenhouse-gas emissions by 2012. The goal is for greenhouse gases to be reduced to 7 percent below what they were in 1990. President George W. Bush refused to participate with the Kyoto agreement, and Kraft says that mayors of 166 cities in 37 states are committing to municipal Kyoto compliance as a result.

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