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To honour Earth Day's 25th anniversary, a major US utility is stressing that its environmental improvement programme does not mean higher electricity bills. In fact, New England Electric (NEE) remains the lowest cost provider of electricity among all major electric companies in the region, it announced to celebrate Earth Day on April 22

Among it accomplishments are the utility's involvement in the largest wind power project east of the Mississippi, a plant planned for the Boundary Mountains in Maine to be built by Kenetech Windpower. The utility has also reduced nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions from its power plants by 23% between 1990 and 1994 and sulphur dioxide (SO2) by 43%; reduced CO2 emissions by 11% through energy conservation and use of cleaner fuels; and another 7% through "offset" measures at sites other than power plants

It also operated the region's largest renewable energy system, a string of hydroelectric power plants in western and northern New England, which can generate more than 1.1 million kilowatts of power. It has used renewable energy sources, including hydro power and landfill gas, to generate 18% of its electricity in 1994, up from 11.7% in 1990. In addition, the utility says it continues to live up to its reputation as New England's "green utility" by working with environmental groups including the Conservation Law Foundation to make its energy -- and the nation's -- " cleaner and greener."

After issuing a "Green Request for Proposals," it signed seven renewable energy contracts. As a result, power will be produced using wind power, landfill methane, municipal solid waste, and waste heat recovery. Projects are expected to reduce NOx emissions by more than 460 tons, greenhouse gas emissions by more than 500,000 tons, and solid waste by more than 100,000 tons

And it helped develop President Clinton's climate challenge programme for electric companies to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases voluntarily, taking the lead by going beyond the national goal of reducing emissions to 1990 levels by the year 2000, by vowing to target reductions of 20% below 1990 levels.

NEE is the parent company of retail electric companies Massachusetts Electric, Narragansett Electric and Granite State Electric, and wholesale electric company New England Power. The NEE companies are the region's second largest electric utility system.

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