Power Your Home with Wind!

Stories about renewable energy are all over the news these days, and solar panels are popping up on buildings everywhere including the White House, the Eiffel Tower, the Taj Mahal, and the Vatican. Wind energy production is also growing, and the United States is now the second largest producer of wind energy in the world, behind China. As the technology for renewable energy becomes more available, the cost is dropping substantially. DC Mayor Muriel Bowser announced in June a 20-year agreement that will supply 35 percent of the District government’s electricity with wind power, a deal projected to save taxpayers $45 million over the next 20 years.

But did you know that you, as a DC homeowner or renter, can also jump on this renewable energy bandwagon?

“If you pay an electricity bill every month, whether as a renter or homeowner, you can choose to support wind power,” notes Michelle Moore, CEO of Groundswell, a nonprofit that makes clean energy programs accessible to communities – including DC. “Switching to wind energy is easy. It involves no new equipment, there are no turbines to be installed on your roof, and there are no additional fees. And once you’ve switched to wind energy, you’ll still receive electricity to your home 24/7 regardless of whether the wind is blowing or not.”

How does “switching to wind energy” actually work and what does it really mean? Almost all of the wind energy produced in the United States is generated from large wind turbines. From the turbines the electricity flows into the US electricity grid, which includes a mix of electricity generated from solar power, hydro power, wind, and fossil fuels.  By “switching to wind energy” you’re supporting wind energy production. There is no change in the way electricity is delivered to your home. While the actual electricity arriving to your home may or may not be generated by wind, by switching to wind you’ll be supporting the wind energy industry and divesting your personal electricity use from fossil fuels. And by supporting wind energy you’ll also be reducing your personal carbon footprint by as much as 25 percent.

You can sign up for wind energy through the Groundswell website at http://groundswell.org/clean-energy/residential-wind/. Groundswell negotiates with energy suppliers on behalf of the public and helps ensure that you get a competitive price for wind energy.They also support residential solar power and commercial clean energy programs.

While switching to wind has long been an environmentally sound option, it’s becoming an economically viable option as well. According to the Wind Energy Foundation, the price of US-generated wind power has dropped by more than 90 percent since 1980. Increasingly the cost of wind energy to consumers is competitive with the cost of energy derived from fossil fuels. According to Groundswell, the cost of switching to wind for the average DC household will cost less than $6 per month.

There are other good reasons to switch. Wind energy produced in the United States is a domestic energy source and reduces the country’s overall dependence on foreign oil. According to the US Department of Energy, wind energy is supporting some 73,000 US jobs through development, siting, manufacturing, transportation, and other associated industries and could support as many as 600,000 jobs by 2050.

Meanwhile the environmental rationale for switching to wind energy remains. Groundswell notes, “Right now, over 90 percent of the electricity powering homes in the mid-Atlantic region comes from nonrenewable sources such as coal power plants. By switching to wind, a consumer can offset about 15,000 lbs of greenhouse gases, equivalent to taking two cars off the road every year.”

While wind energy is good for your carbon footprint, many environmentalists have voiced concern about bird mortality from wind turbines. The wind energy industry is researching how and why birds are impacted by turbines and looking for ways to reduce mortality as the industry grows. Wind energy does result in bird mortality, but fossil fuel, hydroelectric, and nuclear energy production also have negative impacts on wildlife.

Wind energy production is soaring. In the DOE’s latest 2014 Wind Technologies Market Report, the United States now has enough installed wind energy capacity to power over 17.5 million homes. Wind power meets almost 5 percent of the nation’s electricity demand. Unfortunately renewable energy makes up no more than 5 percent of Pepco’s energy mix. With the price of wind energy dropping and glaciers retreating at unprecedented rates, isn’t it time we all did something to help save the world? Consider signing up for wind energy today.

Catherine Plume is a lifelong environmentalist, a writer, and a blogger for the DC Recycler: www.DCRecycler.blogspot.com; Twitter @DC_Recycler.