Wind Energy


MCEC logoEach year the Maryland Clean Energy Center recognizes a few individuals and organizations who have done outstanding work to advance clean energy and energy efficiency in Maryland for their leadership, partnership, advocacy, and overall championship of the sector. Nominations will be reviewed and winners will be chosen by an Awards Committee. Awardees will be announced at a luncheon during the Maryland Clean Energy Summit to be held October 16, 2013.

Click here for more information about the nomination process and award categories.

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by Susanna Parker

Maryland Senate Passes Offshore Wind BillBGnews_logo

The third time is the charm – after proposing offshore wind bills in 2011 and 2012, Governor Martin O’Malley’s Maryland Offshore Wind Energy Act of 2013 passed in the Maryland Senate on March 8. The vote, which had a large favorable margin in the Maryland House, passed in the Senate 30 to 15. The passage of this bill would allow Maryland to hire a private developer to build a series of turbines off the coast of Ocean City. The higher rate for offshore wind, and the cost of development, would require Maryland residential ratepayers to pay an additional $1.50 a month after the turbines are constructed. Maryland businesses would also pay a monthly surcharge of 1.5 percent. O’Malley has framed the monthly charge as a low but necessary cost in establishing an industry in Maryland that has both high potential for green energy but comes with multi-billion dollar start-up costs.

Maryland joins several other states including New Jersey in establishing “carve-outs” for green energy in their state energy budgets. These carve-outs have driven growth in other states, and wind energy advocates hope that the bill will kick-start the offshore wind industry throughout the mid-Atlantic region. Mike Tidwell, executive director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, is optimistic about the effect the bill will have on Maryland’s economy, stating that “it’s a driver of innovation that will create jobs, enhance our economy, improve public health, and protect the climate.” For more information on the bill, read the Washington Post article here.  Visit the Chesapeake Climate Action Network to find out how to thank your Senator for their vote.

New York Times Comes Out Against Keystone XL Pipeline

In an editorial published March 11, the New York Times urged President Obama to reject the pipeline that would funnel Canadian tar sand oil across the United States to the Gulf of Mexico. The Times editorial comes shortly after the State Department’s report stating that the pipeline would have little environmental impact because Canada would develop the tar sand oil with or without the pipeline, therefore building it or not would have no long-term effects. The Times, however, points out that rejecting the pipeline would require Canadians to “play a larger role in deciding whether a massive expansion of tar sands development is prudent.” The lack of a U.S. pipeline would force Canada to build one that spanned their own provinces, a project that has already been delayed due to concerns about the potential environmental impact.

The proposed Keystone XL pipeline would traverse 875 miles of the United States and transport 830,000 barrels of crude oil daily to refineries on the Gulf Coast. The process of extracting, refining, and burning tar sands oil is a dirtier process than that for standard crude, yielding annual greenhouse gas emissions that are roughly 17 percent higher. Additionally, the tar sands and the boreal forest that holds them are major carbon sinks; by extracting the tar sands we both add carbon to the atmosphere and take away a method of removing it. The Times urges President Obama to reject the project, stating that “a president who has repeatedly identified climate change as one of humanity’s most pressing dangers cannot in good conscience approve a project that can only add to the problem.” Read the full editorial at the New York Times.

Upcoming Green Events

2_Bidder 70 E Flyer

  • Bidder 70, Friday, March 15, 7:30 pm, St. Columba’s Church, Washington DC

Environmental activist Tim DeChristopher was sent to jail at age 21 for bidding on, and winning, millions of dollars worth of land parcels under false pretenses at a Bureau of Land Management auction. His actions drew ire from gas and oil companies, and applause from environmentalists; Bidder 70 documents DeChristopher’s trial and conviction. Part of the DC Environmental Film Festival, Friday’s screening will be hosted by Ray Suarez and feature musical guests Magpie. Tickets are $7 at the door, seating is limited. For more information on the screening, please visit the event’s Facebook page.

  • Save a Birding Hot Spot! Sunday, March 17, 9 am – 11 am, 20500 Zion Road, Laytonsville, MD

Join the Montgomery County Sierra Club, the Montgomery Bird Club, and the Department of Environmental Protection to remove invasive plants from the Blue Mash Nature Trail. The area, a haven for birds and wildlife, has seen its bird diversity drop off due to non-native plants. Bring your clippers, saws, and loppers, and help restore a wildlife habitat. For more information and to RSVP, please visit here.

  • Recycling 101 – Make Recycling Your Business! Thursday, March 21, 9 am – 12 noon, Silver Spring Civic Building, One Veterans Place, Silver Spring, MD

Montgomery County Division of Solid Waste Services presents a workshop featuring information on implementing a successful recycling program in the workplace. Learn about Montgomery County’s recycling requirements, how to reduce waste, and where to buy products made from recyclable materials. The cost is $10 per person. For more information and to RSVP, please visit here.

Susanna Parker is a recent college graduate and volunteer with Bethesda Green. Her interest in sustainability leads her to look for green solutions in uncommon places.

BreezBee® Wind Panel

BreezBee® Wind Panels (Photo by Altenera Technology)

by Dan Kulpinski

Wind does more than make turbines spin: It also causes objects to vibrate. What if the energy in those vibrations could be tapped to generate electricity, using a method that is silent and has no moving parts?

Altenera Technology, a Bethesda Green incubator company, is developing a new device to do just that. Their modular BreezBee® Wind Panel prototype holds many “reeds” that vibrate in the wind. By utilizing a magnetic field, the device transforms the vibrational energy into an electric current.

The reeds can be assembled in panels of any shape and size, which can be connected together like Legos. The panels are light and have no moving parts — both big plusses in cities.

“It’s really the first, practical wind solution that’s good for residential locations because it doesn’t have rotating parts,” said Chase McCarthy, chief business development officer. “You can use sites that never would have been considered for wind before with this wind panel, because it’s small, light and silent.”

Because tall buildings create unusual wind patterns, there’s plenty of opportunity for small-scale wind power in urban areas. “You have very turbulent wind conditions in cities,” said McCarthy.

Altenera’s wind panels could go atop roofs, or form a kind of webbing in the framework of municipal sites such as bridges and water towers, or be used in mobile arrays for military or other purposes.

Chief Technology Officer Morris Kaplan proved the concept when he built a reed-like power source for sensors in remote, hard-to-access industrial equipment. Since beginning work on the technology, he’s filed two patents for Altenera and registered the BreezBee® trademark.

Solar house with BreezBee® Wind Panels

Solar house with BreezBee® Wind Panels. (Image by Altenera Technology)

“Although we’re competing with small turbines, our model is really closer to solar’s,” said Kaplan, who is an internationally recognized researcher in the modeling, design and fabrication of various mechanical and electro-optical components. “We use the same infrastructure and same electronics as solar. We think of the panel as a missing link between utility wind farms and the residential, solar panel market.”

In fact, the wind panels complement solar panels and could be easily installed by solar power companies at the same time they put solar on a roof.

As a start-up company, Altenera seeks to put some financial wind in its sails. “We’re building early-stage prototypes and looking for funding to take it to the final stage,” said McCarthy.

Dan Kulpinski is a freelance writer who covers environmental science and sustainability topics.

While most of the inside-the-beltway punditry focused on congressional dysfunction and political brinkmanship over the New Year’s Day fiscal cliff vote regarding federal tax rates, the legislation includes a section — Title IV, Energy Tax Credits — that extends retroactively a number of energy credits from January 1, 2012 through December 31, 2013.

The legislation covers tax credits for homeowners to improve the energy efficiency of their homes (see Section 408) and addresses wind energy, geothermal, biodiesel and more.

To download the legislation go to American Taxpayer Act.

Bethesda Green plans to organize an information forum early this year to review some of the details and current status of federal and state energy tax credits. Stay tuned.

by Susanna Parker

Montgomery County & Catalog Choice Work Together to Reduce WasteBGnews_logo

‘Tis the season for masses of unwanted catalogs stuffed into our mailboxes, cluttering our counters, and giving us headaches — but it doesn’t have to be!

Montgomery County has just announced a formal partnership with Catalog Choice, the free online service that has been helping us opt out of catalogs, credit offers, and other unsolicited hard copy since 2007. Working together, Catalog Choice and Montgomery County have created a dedicated website solely for Montgomery County residents and businesses. The website allows you to search for senders by name and request your removal from their database. To do so, you need the Customer Number and Key Code, which are both found on the mailing label. Once you’ve entered that information, you can submit your request to the company, and so long, junk mail! Do yourself and the environment a favor; opt out of unsolicited mailings, prevent that headache, and help reduce waste!

O’Malley to Push For Offshore Wind in 2013

Legislation to fund offshore wind farms has failed to pass the Maryland General Assembly twice, but that has not deterred Governor Martin O’Malley from his continued support of the plan.

According to the Maryland Gazette, in late November O’Malley sent a letter to President Barack Obama encouraging him to look to Maryland as a leader in clean energy options. O’Malley wrote that the state has “chosen to aggressively develop our vast offshore wind resources.” However, O’Malley’s plan may be imperiled by the potential expiration of the federal wind energy tax credits. These credits, set to expire New Year’s Eve, give energy companies 2.2 cents for every kilowatt hour of wind power they produce for the first ten years. This credit helps companies make the changeover to wind power without passing extra costs down to the consumers.

O’Malley supports the extension of these tax credits, but will push the offshore wind legislation regardless of the credit. There are still concerns about the language of the potential bill; State Senator Catherine E. Pugh argues that, since the bill is asking the public to pay for the changeover, there should be inclusiveness in ownership. Pugh is also a proponent of accessing Maryland’s natural gas resources, citing its lower costs and potential for job creation. Takkira Winfield, spokeswoman for the Governor’s office, says that while they’re hoping to introduce something similar to last year’s legislation, the details of the bill are still being worked out.

For more details, please read the full Maryland Gazette article here.

Upcoming Green Events

  • Poplar Spring Animal Sanctuary Volunteer Day, Sunday December 16, 9 am – 12 pm, 15200 Mount Nebo Road Poolesville, MD.

Join the Washington Farm Animals Meetup Group for a volunteer day at Poplar Spring Animal Sanctuary in Poolesville. Poplar Spring Animal Sanctuary non-profit organization whose 400-acre property serves as a refuge for both farm animals and wildlife. The volunteer activities will consist of feeding the refuge’s populations of goats, sheep, pigs, horses, chickens, turkeys, and rabbits, as well as cleaning their stalls and providing the animals with fresh water. RSVP via the Washington Farm Animals Meetup Group.  If this is your first time volunteering with Poplar Spring, please be sure to fill out and bring their volunteer application  and waiver.

  • GreenWheaton’s Alternative Lighting Program, Thursday, Dec. 20, 7 – 8:30 pm, All Eco Center, 2662 University Blvd, Wheaton, MD.

Experts discuss Street Lighting in Wheaton MD.  Learn about the County’s plans for upgrading to more energy efficient lights and Wheaton’s prospects for approving more energy efficient/dark sky friendly decorative light fixtures for downtown Wheaton.  More info available here.

  • Save Rock Creek Park Trees, Friday, December 21, 1 – 3 pm, Rock Creek Park trail head on Albermarle Street, NW.

Join the Rock Creek Conservancy and the National Park Service to save park trees from the chokehold of English ivy, an invasive vine that grows up tree trunks and eventually weakens and kills its host tree. Volunteers will cut ivy from the trunks with hand tools which, along with gloves and training, will be provided onsite. To register, please visit their calendar at RockCreekConservancy.org.

Susanna Parker is a recent college graduate and volunteer with Bethesda Green. Her interest in sustainability leads her to look for green solutions in uncommon places.

WGES CleanSteps® Carbon Offsets, offered in partnership with Bethesda Green, is a green product that allows you to support clean air and water projects in the Chesapeake Bay region.

A carbon offset represents a greenhouse gas emission reduction made in one place to compensate for emissions created in another place. With WGES CleanSteps Carbon Offsets, you can counterbalance the environmental impact of your natural gas use from everyday activities such as heating and cooking. WGES CleanSteps Carbon Offsets are derived from verified emssion-reduction projects (intermodal transport and methane gas capture), and they are unique because they also fund new local carbon offset projects managed by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, such as tree plantings along rivers and streams.

Since the launch of WGES CleanSteps Carbon Offsets in September 2010…

  • More than 50,000 carbon offsets have been matched to WGES customers’ natural gas usage.
  • More than $400,000 in contributions have been made to the Carbon Reduction Fund managed by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.
  • The funds have been used to plant 9,000 trees in Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Carroll, Frederick and Talbot counties in Maryland and to start a nutrient-management project.

When customers choose WGES for their natural gas supply, they can match 100% of their natural gas use with WGES CleanSteps Carbon Offsets. And as part of its partnership with Bethesda Green, WGES is offering special pricing for Bethesda Green members.

For more information about WGES CleanSteps Carbon Offsets and to enroll at special pricing, visit www.wges.com/greenspecialoffsets.

circle of support for osw

The Chesapeake Climate Action Network (CCAN) is helping organize hundreds of Marylanders on Monday night April 2 to form a “Circle of Support” around the Maryland State House in Annapolis to encourage lawmakers to embrace offshore wind power.

Attendees will literally form a continuous ring of people around the capital building. It will be a powerful way to convey a very positive message: This circle represents our unified appreciation of leaders who have fought so hard to advance legislation this year to build a clean-energy wind farm off Maryland’s Atlantic coast.

When’s the last time citizens formed a ring around the State House in Annapolis? No one – not even long-time activists and lawmakers – can recall it ever happening before. How many people will it take? Several hundred at least, according to CCAN, which is why they need your help.

Free buses to Annapolis are available.  More details about the event can be found here.

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