by Dan Rudt                                                                                                

EPA Names DC 2011 Green Power Community of the Year

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says the District’s government, businesses, institutions, and residents collectively purchase nearly 760 million kilowatt-hours of green power annually, making it the largest Green Power Community in the nation. More than 8 percent of the electricity sold in the District comes from green power. The city government alone purchases 244 million kilowatt-hours of green power annually, or 50 percent of its total municipal load. The only other city to receive the 2011 Green Power Community of the Year Award is Portland, Oregon. Read about the Green Power Leadership Awards.

Virginia Approves Hefty Residential Solar Fee

Regulators in Virginia have approved a fee, requested by Dominion Virginia Power, on homeowners who install solar arrays of 10kw or more. Dominion’s rationale for this “standby” fee, according to a Virginian-Pilot article, is that they still “must maintain the poles, wires and operating equipment” for customers who generate their own electricity through solar power. Dominion currently has only one residential customer whose solar array is large enough for them to impose the fee. That has led smaller customers to worry that the company will use the approval as a stepping stone to request the fee for all residences with solar in the future. The one customer who qualifies for the fee says it amounts to 20% of his electrical cost savings, a heavy penalty to pay for switching to solar. Virginian-Pilot article by Carolyn Shapiro.  

Local Farmers Sell Direct to You

Montgomery Countryside Alliance recommends we take some time this winter to learn about buying food direct from the source. Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) has been around for 20 years, and provides a model (with variations) that benefit both consumer and farmer. Read about CSAs here. View a list of local CSA farms here.

FSU Building Sustainable Energy Research Facility

Frostburg State University has begun construction on a new Sustainable Energy Research Facility (SERF) that will support the research, education and community outreach programs of the FSU Renewable Energy Center. The facility will serve as an example of an energy-efficient, sustainable building for homeowners, farmers or businesses in western Maryland. The 6,300 square foot SERF, built with the aid of US DOE grants, will generate its own electricity from solar and wind power, and solar thermal collectors and geothermal energy will be used for heating, cooling and air conditioning.

Upcoming Green Events

MCDOT Public Meeting: Proposed Bikesharing Initiative along Metrorail Red Line, Tuesday, Nov. 29, 6:00 – 8:30 pm., lobby auditorium of the Executive Office Building, 101 Monroe Street, Rockville. Staff is seeking your input on bike sharing locations from the DC line to the Beltway along both Montgomery County portions of the Metrorail Red Line. More information here.

Talk: “An Ozone Monitoring Garden,” Tuesday, Nov. 29, 7:30 pm, Kensington Park Public Library, 4201 Knowles Avenue, Kensington. Monthly meeting of the Maryland Native Plant Society. Speaker Jeannie Allen is a Science Education Specialist for Sigma Space Corp at NASA Goddard. In summer, our area experiences ozone levels that are well above what is healthy for plants, animals, and people. Several common native plants are sensitive to ozone and, when over-exposed, show specific changes in their leaves. Learn how ozone is formed; how to recognize ozone damage and which plants may show it; hear an update on our regional air quality based on NASA observations of Earth from space. There will be refreshments. Pot luck refreshments are always welcome. Bring native plants for “give-a-ways.” Sign up to attend.

Lighting the Way to a Greener Community! First Thursday Happy Hour, Dec. 1, 5 – 8 pm. Redwood Restaurant and Wine Bar, 7121 Bethesda Lane. An evening of casual conversation and networking with Bethesda Green and Greater Washington Interfaith Power & Light. Learn what local congregations are doing to save energy and go green. Complimentary vegetarian appetizers, Happy Hour drink specials. Contribution: $10 at the door will support both organizations. RSVP.

Maryland 2012: Legislation to Protect our Air, Land, Water, and People, Monday, Dec. 5, 6:30- 8:30 pm, Salisbury University, Guerrieri University Center – Nanticoke Room # 236, 1101 Camden Ave. Salisbury, MD 21801.  2012 will be a year with a continuing tough economy and budget cuts affecting our environment. Learn the issues from leaders in the environmental community, share what you think should happen in Annapolis, and hear from our elected officials. Refreshments will be served. RSVP for this FREE event.

Maryland-Asia Environmental Partnership (MD-AEP), 3rd Annual Energy and Environmental Leadership Series Banquet, Tuesday, Dec. 6, 6 – 9 pm. Institute of Marine and Environmental Technology (home of the world’s first sustainable aquaculture system), The Columbus Center, Baltimore. Philippines Ambassador to the United States, The Honorable Jose L. Cuisia will keynote the event. Also expected to attend are MD Secretary of the Environment Bob Summers, Secretary John Griffin of DNR, Chesapeake Bay Commission Director Ann Swanson and key Environmental Committee members of the MD General Assembly. Tickets are $90. When registering, type “BethesdaGreen” when prompted for a discount code and receive a $15 discount. More information and registration.

ACORE Phase II National Policy Conference: “Renewable Energy in America – Creating Security and Prosperity,” Wednesday, Dec. 7, 7  am – 5  pm, Cannon Caucus Room, Cannon House Office Building (& Reception, Dec. 6, 6 – 8 pm @ Folger Shakespeare Library). The American Council on Renewable Energy conference will explore the key policy issues related to increasing private investment in and use of renewable energy in both the electricity and transportation sectors, and will lay the groundwork for the 2012 U.S. renewable energy market and finance policy agenda. Conference Website and registration. Discount available using code: SPT20BEG

Bethesda Green Education, Outreach and Marketing (EOM) Group Meeting – Newcomers Welcome! Wednesday, Dec. 7, 4:00 – 5:30 pm at Bethesda Green, 4825 Cordell Ave., corner of Woodmont Ave., Suite 200, above the Capital One Bank. A team of volunteers, EOM supports all of Bethesda Green’s communication efforts. From recycling to energy efficiency, sustainability to green building/design, EOM expresses the organization’s various areas of expertise in a clear and concise manner via various media.  New members are welcome to join. More information here, or contact Bethesda Green Communications Director Dave Heffernan,

Crete: The Roots of the Mediterranean Diet, Presentation & Brunch, Sunday, December 11, 2011, 12:30 – 3:30 pm. Enjoy the benefits of one of the world’s healthiest cuisines. Free presentation by Chef-Author Nikki Rose at Bethesda Green, 4825 Cordell Ave. Suite 200, Bethesda (12:30 – 1:30pm). Followed by Brunch at Yamas Mediterranean Grill, 4806 Rugby Ave., Bethesda (1:30 – 3:30 pm). Brunch is $30 and includes a complimentary glass of wine. More information and reservations here.