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First state to contract green power

In Pennsylvania the state government -- including several public universities -- will soon start using wind power. The news comes just as the state's first wind farm, a 1.3 MW plant at an industrial park, went on-line. The government will buy its wind power as part of the green electricity being offered by GreenMountain.com. It is the first time that a state has actually contracted to buy green power.

In Pennsylvania even the state government - including several publicly run universities - will soon start using wind power. The news comes just as the state's first wind farm, a 1.3 MW plant at an industrial park, went on-line. The government will buy its wind power as part of the green electricity being offered by GreenMountain.com.

Pennsylvania has the liveliest green power market in the US and more than 500,000 customers were being served in the state's Electric Choice program as of January 1. Under the state's restructuring law, January 1 marked the date when all Pennsylvania customers were eligible to choose an alternative electricity supplier.

Once a 10.4 MW wind farm in Garrett, Pennsylvania, is electrified - in time for Earth Day 2000 in April - it will provide a portion of the power being bought by the state. Ground was broken at the project, to consist of wind turbines supplied by German-Danish company Nordex, on December 1 (Windpower Monthly, January 2000).

Under the state government contract - which specifically requires cleaner, renewable energy - GreenMountain.com is to supply 37.5 million kWh to more than half a dozen state government accounts. The green power supplier was one of eight companies that bid for the contract. Among the agencies of the state - formally known as the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania - going green are the Capitol buildings in Harrisburg, the state capital; the state prison department; state office buildings in Pittsburgh, Scranton, and Reading; and Pennsylvania's 14 state universities. The supply contract represents 5% of the aggregated power purchase in 2000 of the state's Department of General Services, which contracted for the power.

First state ever

It is the first time that a state has actually contracted to buy green power. In Colorado, the governor signed up for power for his mansion from the 5 MW Ponnequin wind farm in late 1998, but not for power for other state agencies. Last year President Bill Clinton issued an Executive Order to encourage federal agencies to buy renewable electricity - such as wind. Shortly after the order was issued, the Clinton administration announced its Wind Powering America plan, which calls for 5% of America's power by 2020 to be from wind.

"The Pennsylvania government contract demonstrates that cleaner and renewable electricity is competitive, reliable and a viable form of energy," said GreenMountain.com's Mid-Atlantic region president David Breitmayer.

On December 31, the first commercial wind energy project in the mid-Atlantic region was electrified - two 65 kW wind turbines at the Humboldt Industrial Park, south-west of Hazleton. All the power generated by the turbines had already been sold by the end of last year. Among the customers is Philadelphia's Sheraton Rittenhouse Square Hotel, America's first environmentally smart hotel. It will buy 20,000 kWh of wind monthly, making it the largest wind power user in the state. And two more turbines, to be added to the project in the spring, are already fully subscribed.

"We are taking our experience with wind energy in the West, and bringing it back to Pennsylvania. This is an exciting homecoming for us," says Harry Halloran of Energy Unlimited, which designed and installed the turbines. Several other renewables organisations are also involved in the project. Community Energy, which grew out of the Clean Air Council of Philadelphia and the Land and Water Fund of the Rockies in Colorado, with support from Penn Future of Harrisburg (Windpower Monthly, November 1999), is marketing the electricity to businesses in the Philadelphia area. And Conectiv Energy of Delaware is managing the delivery of the product and is providing infrastructure services.

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