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.

Fox5 had a great story last week about how Manna Food Center buys fresh produce from local farmers–including Button Farm, which is run by the Menare Foundation, a Bethesda Green Business Incubator company.

Any leftover produce from grocery stores or the participating farms gets put into compost bins and sent back to the farms to become natural fertilizer to grow more produce. A complete circle! Check out the Fox5 story and video report.

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