WSSC announces major 'green' energy initiative

Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC) is contracting with Constellation Energy Projects & Services Group Inc. to purchase power from a wind farm to be constructed in Forward, PA. WSSC's arrangement involves paying a fixed price over 10 years for 85% of the farm's wind power output -- or a third of its electricity needs. This will lower its energy costs by an estimated $20 million while providing long-term price stability and a substantial commitment to the environment...

Wind power agreement projected to save $20 million in energy costs over 10 years.

LAUREL, MD, Dec. 19, 2006 -- Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC) General Manager Andrew Brunhart announced today that the organization plans to use wind power for one-third of its electricity needs. WSSC's 10-year wind power agreement will lower energy expenditures by an estimated $20 million while providing long-term price stability and a substantial commitment to the environment.

"This initiative benefits our customers in many ways," Brunhart said. "Wind power saves our ratepayers money on energy costs and improves air quality by reducing the amount of greenhouse gases released into the environment."

According to current statistics of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, WSSC's agreement would make it the number one local government user of renewable energy in the United States. Beginning in 2008, WSSC will use approximately 70,000-megawatt hours* of wind power per year to replace traditional energy sources, which would reduce pollutants by 83.7 million pounds a year of CO2, 583,000 lbs/yr of SO2 and 188,000 lbs/yr of NOx (an ozone/smog precursor).

WSSC would also qualify as one of the top 25 partners in the federal EPA's Green Power Partnership rankings. The Partnership provides assistance and recognition to organizations that demonstrate environmental leadership by choosing green power. Seventy thousand megawatt hours are enough electricity to provide power to approximately 6,000 homes for one year.

WSSC is contracting with Constellation Energy Projects & Services Group Inc. of Baltimore, MD, to purchase power from a wind farm to be constructed in Forward, PA (in Somerset County). WSSC's arrangement involves paying a fixed price over 10 years for 85% of the farm's wind power output. WSSC, therefore, will have consistent, predictable costs and a stable source of energy.

WSSC's unique approach allows ratepayers to be shielded from volatile electric prices. Unlike most green power purchases that involve renewable energy credits, WSSC will purchase actual electricity from a specific wind farm. While most people understand the environmental and cost impacts of this type of project, according to Brunhart, there is a broader perspective. "The size and scope of this project is of global significance. Purchasing power generated from wind lessens our dependence on foreign oil."

The Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (www.wsscwater.com) is among the 10 largest water and wastewater utilities in the nation, serving more than 1.7 million customers in Prince George's and Montgomery counties in Maryland. WSSC operates and maintains seven water and wastewater plants more than 5,300 miles of fresh water pipeline and more than 5,200 miles of sewer pipeline.

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