Making political mileage

In the US, east coast wind marketer Community Energy Inc broke into the politically visible Washington DC electric retail market last month with sales to three customers of Washington Gas Energy Services -- the United States Army, Catholic University and National Geographic Society. Each will buy blocks of wind power to meet some of their electricity needs.

Washington Gas Energy Services is the first electricity provider in the nation's capital to offer Community Energy's New Wind Energy product to its customers. The wind power will come from the nearby 66 MW Mountaineer Project in West Virginia, recently bought by FPL Energy from Atlantic Renewable Energy and under construction using NEG Micon 1.5 MW turbines.

Exelon Power Partners, the largest purchaser of wind in the eastern US with 140 MW, expects to take delivery of all the wind farm's power under a 20 year agreement. Community Energy, based in Pennsylvania, markets the energy Exelon buys to retail customers and utilities like Washington Gas Energy Services. Community Energy intends to market all 66 MW by the end of 2002, says CEO Brent Alderfer.

Both the army and Catholic University will buy electricity equal to the output of a 1.5 MW turbine. For the army, that will meet part of the electricity needs at several of its facilities, including the Walter Reed Army Medical Centers, and the Fort McNair and Adelphi Labs, while for the university, the purchase will supply 12% of its electricity use. The National Geographic Society's purchase accounts for 5% of the power used at its headquarters.