December 2011


View Globally, Act Locally

By Cheryl Kollin, Full Plate Ventures

Why spend your Saturday at Bethesda Green staring at a webcast all day?  “I have a fascination with learning about sustainable food production, healthy living, and nutritious and traditional cooking methods,” offered one registrant who signed up for Changing the Way We Eat 2012, a viewing party January 21 at Bethesda Green. When the topic is the state of our food system and progress toward sustainability, people with various interests come to take a seat at the table. Last year’s event drew 46,000 viewing streams from 11 countries including the 40 attendees at Bethesda Green’s viewing party.

TEDxManhattan 2012, the independently organized TED talk, hosted by the Glynwood Institute has a full lineup of speakers engaged in various aspects of our sustainable food system, including public health officials, community organizers, public policy advocates, farmers, restaurateurs, business entrepreneurs, and writers.

Speakers include: representatives from Johns Hopkins’ Public Health, The Humane Society, The James Beard Foundation, the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture, and Food & Water Watch.

Bethesda Green, Full Plate Ventures, and Slow Food DC are co-hosting the second annual viewing party. During the national breaks, local speakers will share their knowledge of our burgeoning sustainable food movement and what’s emerging in Montgomery County. “This is a great way to learn about what’s happening right here in our community,” said Beverly Firme, who writes the Green Around Town column for Bethesda Patch, the community’s hyper-local online newspaper. “It’s also a great way to connect with others.”

“I’m a public policy graduate student interested in food issues; I’m hoping to learn more about organizations and projects and to network.”

We’ve built in morning activities to get to know who’s in the room. Once again we offer our Seasonal Local Pot-Luck Lunch Challenge—the challenge of course is to demonstrate that we can eat locally—even in January.

Seasonal Local Pot-Luck Lunch Challenge, 2011 viewing party

There are many community-based initiatives and entrepreneurial businesses popping up this year that I’m excited to share with attendees at our lunch-time panel:

Growing Legacy On Metro’s Edge — watch a film teaser from this documentary-in -progress about our local food system and the Montgomery Country Agricultural Reserve. Produced by Mark Leisher Productions and Montgomery Countryside Alliance.

Introducing the new Montgomery Food Council — a group of diverse stakeholders, launching in February, will examine how well the local food system is serving its community, then find solutions to take action toward improving it.

Connecting producers with buyers — check out some of the on-line and social media resources to help find and connect local food producers with buyers, both retail and wholesale.

Know your food from farm to fork — How do you know where your local food actually comes from and if it is produced sustainably? Learn about seal of approval programs and how new apps bring the farm to you.

Hunger in Bethesda? Bethesda Cares and partner congregations feed the homeless every day in our affluent community. Learn from those making a difference.

“I work for the Center for Food Safety. I am also very concerned personally about these issues.”

No need to stay for the whole day–drop in as your schedule allows.

Changing the Way We Eat 2012
TEDxManhattan Viewing Party
Saturday, January 21, 2012 9am-5:30pm

Bethesda Green
4825 Cordell Avenue, Suite 200
Bethesda, MD 20814

Viewing Party Schedule and Pot-Luck Lunch Challenge Details

Register to attend — FREE event

TEDxManhattan’s “Changing the Way We Eat” is a one-day event in New York City that will be simulcast at viewing parties all over the world. Visit Invited Speakers to see the TEDx speakers. The full list and schedule will be published closer to the event.

Bethesda Green brings business, government and community together to promote a healthy economy and sustainable living practices in order to reduce our collective impact on the environment.

Cheryl Kollin of Full Plate Ventures, LLC is passionate about building sustainable, regional food systems. She provides business consulting and educational programming to social enterprises to enhance their profitability while serving their social mission.

SlowFood DC is a community that promotes and celebrates local, seasonal, and sustainable food sources; works to preserve the culinary traditions of the region’s ethnically and culturally diverse populations; and supports the right of all people to enjoy good, clean, fair food.

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Exelon-Constellation Merger Clears Major Hurdle

Governor Martin O’Malley announced on December 14 that the State of Maryland and the Maryland Energy Administration have reached a settlement with Exelon Corporation and Constellation Energy. The terms must be approved by the Maryland Public Service Commission by January 5 for the merger of Exelon and Constellation, the parent company of Baltimore Gas and Electric, to occur.

The Governor played hardball for months with Chicago-based Exelon, and came away with over $1 billion in promised investment into the Maryland economy. Exelon has agreed to provide Maryland with:

  • 120 MW of new natural gas generation
  • 125 MW of land-based wind generation
  • 30 MW of solar generation
  • $30 million investment in the state’s offshore wind development fund
  • $2 million to Maryland public universities to fund wind energy research
  • $90 million towards development of the State’s planned 10 MW of animal-waste fueled generation
  • PSC retains jurisdiction to spin off BGE in certain instances in the future, including Exelon bankruptcy, nuclear accident, or repeated violation of PSC Orders.
  • $50 million for approximately 12,500 weatherization improvements for low- to moderate-income families
  • $10 million to provide assistance to 22,000 families in paying their electricity bills
  • Creation of over 6,000 jobs in Maryland

Mike Tidwell, director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network said, “Governor O’Malley has achieved fairness for ratepayers and a big leap forward for the environment with this agreement. Future Marylanders will look back on this date as a real turning point for clean air and the fight against global warming.”

Solar Energy Sets New Records in Third Quarter 2011

It was a very productive summer for solar panel installers. The third quarter of 2011 was by far (and so far) the busiest quarter of a busy year. More U.S. solar electric capacity came online in Q3 2011 than all of 2009 combined, and Q4 2011 is predicted to be even larger, according to a report released December 14 by GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). Here are some of the numbers from that report:

  • Through Q3, the U.S. solar industry has installed more than 1,000 megawatts (MW) of solar capacity in 2011, already surpassing the 2010 annual total of 887 MW
  • Grid-connected PV installations in Q3 2011 grew 39 percent over Q2 2011 and 140 percent over Q3 2010
  • The utility PV market installed over 200 MW in Q3 2011, a greater than 400 percent increase in installations over Q2 2011
  • The residential PV market grew 21 percent over Q2 2011 to reach nearly 75 MW

The next year or two may not be as rosy as 2011. The SEIA reports a concern in the solar industry about the scheduled expiration at the end of this month of the “1603” U.S. Treasury Department Program that provides funding assistance for commercial energy installations. The program is part of the Recovery Act and will expire without renewal by Congress. As Shayle Kann, Managing Director of the solar practice at GTM Research put it, “U.S. solar is entering 2012 with a sense of cautious optimism.”

Nick’s Farm Get’s Another Season; Issue Not Settled 

Organic farmer Nick Maravelli agreed on Wednesday, 12/14, to drop his lawsuit against the Montgomery County Board of Education. In return, the county government gave him an extension on his lease through August 15, 2012. The lease had been scheduled to expire on December 31, 2011. That does not mean his fight is over, however. According to the Gazette, the county still plans to use the land for soccer fields. The newspaper reports Montgomery County Director of Public Information Patrick Lacefield as saying, “Since we are not going to be breaking ground before August 15, and since he dropped the lawsuit, we gave him an extension. From our standpoint, this does not change our schedule…or our intent.” Still, the Potomac Patch suggests Maravell welcomed the temporary agreement. “It gives me hope that we can continue to advance our desire to use the fields for education services,” he said.

Maravell has leased from the board of education and farmed the land on Brickyard Road in Potomac since 1980. The board voted in March, 2011 to lease the land to the county for use as soccer fields. Maravell and others who want to save his organic farm have proposed that it be used as an outdoor agricultural education center for Montgomery County students. The Delmarva Farmer writes, “The Chesapeake Sustainability Institute, a tax-deductible 501c3, is already working to develop the educational center in the event,” that the county allows the Brickyard Road farm to remain in business.

Upcoming Green Events

First Thursday Happy Hour @ BlackFinn, Thursday, Jan. 5, 5-8 pm, 4901 Fairmont Avenue, Bethesda. Ring in the New Year w/Bethesda Green. Join us for casual conversation and social networking.

What’s your New Year’s Green Resolution?

Jot it down with your name and email address. Bring your Green Resolution to the Happy Hour for a chance to win a BlackFinn gift card. We’ll share ideas and publish highlights on our website.

* Hear about upcoming Bethesda Green events
* Meet members of our Green Business Incubator
* Learn what you can do to make a difference in your community

RSVP through Meetup

Bethesda Green Education, Outreach and Marketing (EOM) Group Meeting – Newcomers Welcome! Wednesday, January 11, 4:00 – 5:30 pm., 4825 Cordell Ave., corner of Woodmont Ave., Suite 200, above the Capital One Bank, Bethesda. 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. Contact Bethesda Green Communications Director Dave Heffernan, dvheffernan@bethesdagreen.org.

Future Harvest – Chesapeake Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture, 13th Annual Conference, “Farm to Institution: Making Local Food Economies a Reality” January 13-14, National Conference Center, Lansdowne, VA. Two keynote addresses on local food economies, six learning tracks, pre-conference workshops, farmer panel on advocacy and much more! Information and registration here.

MLK Day of Service 2012, Monday, January 16, 1:00 – 3:00 pm. Montgomery County will be celebrating Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service at North Bethesda Marriott Hotel and Conference Center and at two satellite site locations (Universities at Shady Grove in Gaithersburg and the Silver Spring Civic Building). That is followed by a tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr. at Strathmore Hall at 4:00pm. Volunteers can sign up to participate in this exciting event and learn about the great work that local organizations are doing, find out ways to get involved, and make a difference. More information and registration here.

Help the Hungry Food Drive:  Support those in need by bringing non-perishable food items to the Bethesda North Marriott.  Food collection will be located near the Montgomery County Volunteer Center table.  Donations will go to Manna Food Center.

2012 “Keep Winter Cold” Polar Bear Plunge sponsored by CCAN, Saturday, January 21, 2012 at 11:00 am, The Beach at National Harbor, Maryland. For seven years, groups of people who care have plunged into cold bodies of water in our region to fight climate change, bring back the Arctic sea ice, and save polar bears. The Polar Bear Plunge is the Chesapeake Climate Action Network’s biggest annual fundraising event. The money we raise during the plunge goes to support our programs to combat global warming at the state level in our area. Information here.

by Dan Rudt

County RainScapes Rebate Program

The Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection’s rainscapes rewards rebate program offers financial incentives in the form of rebates to residential, commercial, multi-family and institutional property owners who install rainscapes techniques. Eligible projects include rain gardens, conservation landscaping, urban tree canopy, permeable pavers, pavement removal, green roofs, rain barrels, cisterns, and dry wells. Residential rebates range from $200 for installation of rain barrels to $1,200 for a rain garden, green roof retrofit, permeable pavers or pavement removal. Rebates for eligible projects may be combined until the homeowner reaches the maximum residential rebate amount of $1,200. The maximum rebate amount for commercial, multi-family, or institutional property is $5,000.

Rainfall does not penetrate roads, sidewalks, driveways, parking lots or other hard, impermeable surfaces. It runs off into storm water drainage systems (sewers) and streams. Unfortunately, water runoff carries pollutants such as oil, grease, excess lawn and garden fertilizers, pesticides, pet waste, trash and debris into those streams. In some cases, the pollutants end up in supplies of drinking water. The rainscapes techniques covered by the county rebate program are meant to reduce the runoff of pollutants into our streams, protecting the waterways, wildlife and public health.  

The RainScapes Rewards Rebate Program is funded by the county’s Water Quality Protection Charge that appears on property tax bills. Properties within the city limits of Rockville, Gaithersburg and Takoma Park are not eligible for the county rebates. Rockville and Gaithersburg have rainscapes programs for properties within their respective jurisdictions.

Annual funds for this fiscal year’s program are limited and rebates are awarded on a first-come, first-served basis. All applications must be made online and will be accepted beginning January 3, 2012. Further information and the online application form are available at the Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection Website.

Chesapeake Bay Foundation Purchases 100% Wind Power

Rockville-based Clean Currents announced on December 8 that the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) has committed to purchasing Green-e Energy certified wind power from Clean Currents for 100% of its facility’s electricity needs.  

Since its founding 40 years ago, the CBF has been dedicated solely to restoring and protecting the Chesapeake Bay and its tributary rivers by reducing pollution. The Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s stunning headquarters (also known as The Philip Merrill Center) located in the Bay Ridge neighborhood east of downtown Annapolis, has won international acclaim as a model for energy efficiency, low impact design, and water conservation. It also has the distinction of being the first building in the United States to receive a Platinum rating through the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) rating program.

“CBF is one of the country’s leading environmental organizations, housed in one of the country’s greenest commercial structures – so it makes sense that they also receive their electricity from a clean and renewable energy source like wind power,” said Ron Rodriguez, Vice President of Business Development for Clean Currents.

The CBF’s energy purchase will avoid a total of more than six hundred thousand pounds of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions annually – or the equivalent of removing nearly 100 cars from the roads for an entire year.

Update on the Residential Energy Efficiency Rebate Program

We have another update for you on the Montgomery County Residential Energy Efficiency Rebate Program. Eric R. Coffman, Senior Energy Planner for the Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection, has told Bethesda Green that his office has approved 513 projects totaling over $630,000 in rebates to county homeowners. Rebates may range between $500-$3,000. Coffman says the average so far has amounted to $1,200 per household.

The county rebate program, funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy, offers incentives for owners of single family properties and condominiums who install energy efficiency improvements such as insulation, Energy Star home heating and cooling systems, and Energy Star appliances. Homeowner upgrades will conserve energy. They are also good for local energy equipment sellers and installers and energy auditors. The upgrades applied for so far account for more than $3 million in economic activity within the county since September. That is more than $4 in economic activity for every $1 of program funds spent.

The remaining program funding amounts to $467,000. As for rebate applications, Coffman says, “We are seeing substantial program volume,” at this time.

The rebate program has a website for information and online applications. Anyone who has questions or is struggling with the application is encouraged to email help@mcenergyfunding.com for assistance.

For those who have already applied, Coffman reminds you that you have 90 days to complete the work and file for reimbursement. If you have exceeded the 90 days, you may be able to get a 30 day extension at this point. “However,” Coffman stressed, “our ability to grant extensions after the first of the year will be much more limited due to the County’s grant deadlines.”

Upcoming Green Events

The Future of Ride-On, Tuesday, December 13, 7:30 – 8:30 pm, Silver Spring Center, 8818 Georgia Ave, Silver Spring. The Action Committee for Transit sponsors this talk by Carolyn Biggins, Chief, Montgomery County Division of Transit Services. The meeting takes place at the Woodside Conference Room in the Silver Spring Center. The Center is a 10-minute walk north from the Silver Spring Metro Station. Ride On #5 stops two blocks west of the Center at Spring and 1st. Metrobus “Q” and “Y” routes stop in front of the Center. If coming by car, enter the parking lot from Ballard Street. More information on the ACT website.

BG101, Wednesday, December 28, 4:00 – 5:30 pm, at Bethesda Green. Join us for an orientation about Bethesda Green, our history, upcoming events and volunteer opportunities.

First Thursday Happy Hour @ BlackFinn, Thursday, Jan. 5, 5-8 pm, 4901 Fairmont Avenue, Bethesda. Ring in the New Year with Bethesda Green. Join us for casual conversation and social networking.

What’s your New Year’s Green Resolution?

Jot it down with your name and email address. Bring your Green Resolution to the Happy Hour for a chance to win a BlackFinn gift card. We’ll share ideas and publish highlights on our website.

* Hear about upcoming Bethesda Green events
* Meet members of our Green Business Incubator
* Learn what you can do to make a difference in your community

RSVP through Meetup

Bethesda Green Education, Outreach and Marketing (EOM) Group Meeting – Newcomers Welcome! Wednesday, January 11, 4:00 – 5:30 pm., 4825 Cordell Ave., above the Capital One Bank in Bethesda.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, dvheffernan@bethesdagreen.org.

Future Harvest – Chesapeake Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture, 13th Annual Conference, “Farm to Institution: Making Local Food Economies a Reality” January 13-14, National Conference Center, Lansdowne, VA. Two keynote addresses on local food economies, six learning tracks, pre-conference workshops, farmer panel on advocacy and much more! Information and registration here.

MLK Day of Service 2012, Monday, January 16, 1:00 – 3:00 pm. Montgomery County will be celebrating Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service at North Bethesda Marriott Hotel and Conference Center and at two satellite site locations (Universities at Shady Grove in Gaithersburg and the Silver Spring Civic Building). That is followed by a tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr. at Strathmore Hall at 4:00pm. Volunteers can sign up to participate in this exciting event and learn about the great work that local organizations are doing, find out ways to get involved, and make a difference. More information and registration here.

Help the Hungry Food Drive:  Support those in need by bringing non perishable food items to the Bethesda North Marriott.  Food collection will be located near the Montgomery County Volunteer Center table.  Donations will go to Manna Food Center.

by Robert Snyder, Bethesda Green Incubator Manager

The Bethesda Green Business Incubator developed and matured in 2011 as a place for young green companies to grow.  Some of our initial companies graduated, while new companies were added; our physical space grew; and services to our companies greatly expanded.   Today, we have 10 companies and two nonprofits, with several more waiting to join.

Four companies graduated this year:  SeeEco, Glen Eco Vapor Systems, Energy Light + Control, and Bkind Vending.  Three of the four were purchased by larger companies and their products and services continue to be sold.

The incubator welcomed five new companies this year, adding new vitality and diversity to our industry profile:

At the end of 2010, with the generosity of Capital One Bank, the incubator expanded its offices to include an additional 1,000 square feet of space to accommodate full-time resident companies.  We are delighted to have filled that space this year with two existing companies and two new ones—Savenia Labs, Mark Leisher Productions, Rock Creek Conservancy and Geostellar.

Most importantly, we have expanded the services provided to our companies, increasing their access to business and technical expertise.  We are particularly proud to have launched a partnership with the University of Maryland for access to their wealth of business and technical resources.  These resources have included the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship in the Smith School of Business; Maryland Technology Enterprise Institute (MTech) and the Center for Advanced Life Cycle Engineering (CALCE) in the Clark School of Engineering; and the Maryland Intellectual Property Legal Resource Center in the Law School.  In addition, the staff of the Small Business Development Center’s Capital Region office has worked closely with our incubator companies to provide counseling services.  Our incubator continues to work closely with Montgomery County’s Department of Economic Development, particularly with its Business Innovation Network where we share expertise and education and training programs.

The incubator has offered a robust lunchtime speaker series that has featured distinguished entrepreneurs and business services providers.  Our distinguished entrepreneurs included Seth Goldman, Honest Tea; Scott Nash, MOM’s Organic Market; Devin Schain, Campus Direct; Lawrence Winkler, Consolidated Green Services; Charles Segerman, Clean Currents; and Tony Clifford, Standard Solar.  Our business services providers spoke on a variety of topics including social media, company branding, angel investment, legislative issues in the Maryland legislature and deal structure for investments.

Our coming year promises to be an even better one:  more great companies and even better services.  Watch us grow!

By Cheryl Kollin, Full Plate Ventures

Tony Alexis, owner of Yamas Mediterranean Grill is preparing a special brunch menu in honor of Crete: Roots of Mediterranean Diet, a presentation by chef author Nikki Rose.  These two events are co-hosted by Bethesda Green, Full Plate Ventures and Yamas. Tony’s menu celebrates the flavors of his and Nikki’s home country and treats us to some unusual fare. As I reviewed his menu, I had to look up what some of these unusual ingredients and dishes are for this American palate. I hope this primer will entice you to join us for these two educational food events on December 11, from 12:30-3:30pm.

These descriptions are taken from Wikipedia. As you read down the menu you will find:

Meze

Mezés (μεζές) a collective name for a variety of small dishes served as an appetizer. Dips are served with bread loaf or pita bread.

EVOO The most characteristic and ancient element of Greek cuisine is olive oil, which is frequently used in most dishes. It is produced from the olive trees prominent throughout the region, and adds to the distinctive taste of Greek food. Tony uses Extra Virgin Olive Oil  (EVOO) imported from Greece.

Tzatziki, τζατζίκι  is a Greek sauce for souvlaki and gyros and in meze. Tzatziki is made of strained yoghurt (usually from sheep or goat milk) mixed with cucumbers, garlic, salt, usually olive oil, pepper, sometimes lemon juice, and parsley—served cold.

Souvlaki, Σουβλάκι, is a popular Greek fast food consisting of small pieces of meat and sometimes vegetables grilled on a skewer. It may be served on the skewer for eating out of hand, in a pita sandwich with garnishes and sauces, or on a dinner plate, often with fried potatoes. The meat is traditionally lamb in Greece.

Kefalotyri Cheese κεφαλοτύρι is a hard, salty yellow cheese made from sheep milk and/or goat’s milk in Greece and Cyprus. In taste it vaguely resembles Gruyere, except it is harder and quite saltier. A very hard cheese, kefalotyri can be consumed as is. This is a popular and well-known cheese, establishing its roots in Greece during the Byzantine era. Young cheeses take two to three months to ripen. An aged kefalotyri, a year old or more, is drier with a stronger flavour, and may be eaten as a meze with ouzo, or grated on food.

Gigantes

Gigantes γίγαντες πλακί, is a Greek dish known in English as giant baked beans cooked in a tomato-based sauce.

Loukániko λουκάνικο is the common Greek word for pork sausage, but in English it refers to the specifically Greek sausages flavored with orange peel, fennel seed, and various other dried herbs and seeds, and sometimes smoked over aromatic woods. Greek sausages are also often flavored with greens, especially leeks.

Galaktoboureko (γαλακτομπούρεκο) is a Greek dessert of semolina-based custard (sometimes flavored with lemon or orange) in phyllo. It may be made in a pan, with phyllo layered on top and underneath, or rolled into individual servings and served or coated with a clear, sweet syrup.

Author Chef Nikki Rose will share her Greek heritage and take us on a culinary tour of her home  and share her new book, “Crete: The Roots of Mediterranean Diet”. Join us on December 11 with a free presentation at Bethesda Green, followed by special brunch at Yamas Mediterranean Grill.

Event: Presentation by Chef-Author Nikki Rose
Bethesda Green
4825 Cordell Ave. Suite 200
Bethesda, MD  20814

Admission is free

12:30 – 1:30pm

Immediately following the lecture and around the corner:

Event: Celebrating the Flavors of Crete
Brunch at Yamas Mediterranean Grill
4806 Rugby Ave.
Bethesda, MD 20814

$30 (includes a complimentary beverage)

1:30 – 3:30 pm

To register for Nikki Rose presentation, Yamas Brunch, or  to purchase Crete: The Roots of the Mediterranean Diet book on Yamas website, click the green “start ordering” button; click “Delivery”, then select the events you’ll attend. If you only wish to attend the free book presentation, please send me an email: Cheryl@fullplateventures.com. Online Registration is open 11am-9pm. Register Here.

Yamas Brunch Menu
Served Family-style

Mezze Sampler For Sharing:
Tzatziki, Dolmas,
Spanakopita, Gigantes
Dodoni Feta and Kefalotyri cheese and olives w/ Pita

Local mixed greens salad
w/ EVOO (olive oil) vinaigrette

Choice of:

*Yamas Grill platter – Lamb Chops (2 per person)
2 Souvlaki with Tzatziki over Fries
*My Big Greek Omelet – with Spinach, Feta
and Tomato with side of Greek Potatoes & Locaniko (Greek sausage)

Greek or American Coffee & Dessert:
Greek Yogurt with Greek Honey & Walnuts
Choice of Baklava, Galaktobouriko or Rice Pudding

(coffee fortune readings upon request!)

by Dan Rudt                                                                                                                        

More Bike Share Funding Sought

Greg Billing of the Washington Area Bicyclist Association reports on the WABA Website that Montgomery County Department of Transportation is preparing to apply for a Maryland DOT grant that would help fund 50 bike share stations and 400 bicycles for the urban down-county areas. He says county planning and transportation officials presented proposed station plans at a public meeting on November 29 at the County Executive offices in Rockville. The bike share program is dependent on the state grants which, if awarded, will be paid through Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) funds, and require 20% in county matching funds. Greg says if you missed the meeting, you can submit your ideas for bike share locations on the Capital Bikeshare Crowdsourcing Map.

In a closely related story, Kytja Weir reports in the Washington Examiner that the Chevy Chase Land Company has offered to pay for two bike share stations at a cost of $56,000 apiece. One of the proposed locations would be on Wisconsin Circle at the Friendship Heights Metro station. The other is at the Newlands Building near the Bethesda Metro. According to the article, the Chevy Chase Land Company is the first developer to offer financing for any portion of the county’s bike share program. 

County Needs Volunteers to Prepare for New Bag Law                                                 

Beginning January 1, a new law requires Montgomery County retailers to charge 5 cents for each paper or plastic bag provided to a customer. The County is looking for volunteers at this time to bring small signs to store managers for display in their stores. The signs would remind customers to bring their own bags when shopping. The volunteers would also distribute flyers with talking points for cashiers, to help them answer customer questions about the new law. If you are interested in volunteering, call Ansu John at the Montgomery County Dept. of Environmental Protection at 240-777-7786.

Take Control of Your Electricity Supply

That’s what the Maryland Clean Energy Center urges you to do. What’s more, they explain how to do it and the reasons why on their Power to Choose Website. The site includes 10 things you need to know before shopping for an electricity provider, a list of providers in Maryland, a step-by-step guide to choosing and switching providers, and other useful information.

Electrifying Deal for Hagerstown Solar Farm

Ohio-based FirstEnergy Corp. announced on December 1 that its FirstEnergy Solutions subsidiary signed a 20-year agreement to purchase the output from the Maryland Solar Farm planned for Hagerstown. In addition, FirstEnergy Solutions will obtain the Renewable Energy Credits produced by the facility. The agreement demonstrates that Maryland Solar will have a guaranteed source of revenue, critical to the project’s ability to obtain financing.

“FirstEnergy Solutions is proud to play a key role in the development of renewable energy across the country with more than 500 megawatts of wind and solar power under long-term contracts,” said Donald R. Schneider, president of FirstEnergy Solutions.

Construction of the $70-million, 20-megawatt Maryland Solar Farm project by Maryland Solar LLC, to be located on 250 acres of state-owned correctional facility land near Hagerstown, is expected to begin by the end of the year, with completion scheduled for the fourth quarter of 2012. The project is anticipated to be operational in 2013. The solar facility will be the largest in Maryland and among the largest on the East Coast.

Upcoming Green Events

Maryland-Asia Environmental Partnership (MD-AEP), 3rd Annual Energy and Environmental Leadership Series Banquet, Tuesday, December 6, 6:00-9:00 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, December 7, 7:00 am – 5:00 pm, Cannon Caucus Room, Cannon House Office Building (& Reception, Dec. 6, 6:00 – 8:00 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 US renewable energy market and finance policy agenda. Conference Website and registration. Discount available using code: SPT20BEG

Bethesda Green Education, Outreach and Marketing (EOM) Group MeetingNewcomers Welcome! Wednesday, December 7, 4:00 – 5:30 pm.,4825 Cordell Ave., corner of Woodmont Ave., Suite 200, above the Chevy Chase Bank, Bethesda. 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, dvheffernan@bethesdagreen.org.

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.