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Santa Monica goes green

America's first green powered city is to be launched in May. Santa Monica, an upscale liberal town on the California coast near Los Angeles, is teaming up with supplier Commonwealth Energy to use only renewable electricity in all city-run facilities -- including City Hall and the airport. The power, the equivalent of about 5 MW of installed capacity in one year, will be geothermal. Commonwealth says it expects to offer wind power in the future. Santa Monica's switch is projected to reduce emissions by more than 14,000 tons of toxic substances annually, according to green groups. The town is paying a 5% premium, about $140,000 annually, for using green instead of dirty power. It had, however, expected the premium to be $250,000. "This is an historic vote and a major step in our community's commitment to sustainable energy policies," says Paul Rosenstein, a town councillor. "I urge other local governments in California to follow our lead and look to renewables as a way to reduce emissions associated with global warming." The sooner government agencies make these kinds of commitments, the sooner a market is created to lower costs benefiting all customers, he adds.

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