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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This year, the Environmental Film Festival celebrates its 20th Anniversary in the Nation’s Capital. The festival runs March 13-25, 2012, and features 180 documentary, narrative, animated, archival, experimental and children’s films. Most screenings include discussion and are free.

Bethesda Green is participating in the discussion after the Thursday, March 15, 7 pm showing of Cape Spin: An American Power Struggle at St. Columba’s Episcopal Church, 4201 Albemarle St. NW, Washington, DC, near the Tenleytown/AU Metro station. Cape Spin examines the unusual political alliances lined up for and against a major wind farm proposed for the middle of Nantucket Sound.

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.

by Dan Rudt                                                                                                                      

Redskins 22 – Arizona 21. Solar Power Wins the Day!

If you parked your car in the Platinum A1 parking lot at FedEx Field on Sunday (9/18), it would have been one of 850 vehicles parked in the shade. That shade was provided by 8,000 new solar panels built over the lot by NRG Energy, Inc. The largest solar power installation in the DC metropolitan area will provide 20% of the stadium’s electricity needs on game days and 100% on non-game days. Sunday’s game was dubbed “The Solar Bowl.” Go Redskins!

UMES Enters the Renewable Energy Business

University of Maryland Eastern Shore announced on September 13 the formation of a renewable energy development company, Eastern Shore Energy, LLC. The new company will create renewable energy projects at multiple sites on the lower Eastern Shore. The company’s goal is to develop systems capable of generating 100 to 150 megawatts from wind, solar and biomass projects. The regional initiative is the result of a partnership between the Maryland Hawk Corporation, (a non-profit affiliate of the university) and National Renewable Solutions, LLC of Minneapolis, MN, an affiliate of National Wind, LLC. More information here.

DC Wants Ideas about Improving Sustainability

Mayor Vincent Gray has launched a new Website called “Sustainable DC: Start in September”, and asks residents to, “Help make the District the greenest, healthiest, most livable city in the country.” The Website includes a discussion guide and invites users to share their feedback. It also includes a calendar of related discussions and events hosted by groups throughout the city.

Bethesda Central Farm Market Ranked Among Best in U.S.

Congratulations to the Bethesda Central Farm Market. In the “America’s Favorite Farmers Markets” contest, the local farm market was ranked 2nd best in the state of Maryland among markets of all sizes and 10th in the nation among medium sized farmers markets. The contest was put on by America’s Farmland Trust. Voting was online and open to all.

Upcoming Green Events

Savor Local Flavor: Four Course Dinner and Discussion with Chef Tony, Monday, September 19, 7:00 – 10:00 pm. Chef Tony’s, 4926 St. Elmo Avenue, Bethesda, MD 20814. This is the third in the series On the Farm; Around the Table, connecting farmers, food and community in three meals. Chef Tony specializes in seafood and plans his menu based on what’s at its peak of ripeness that very day. During a fabulous four-course dinner, Chef Tony will talk about sourcing and cooking with seasonal and local ingredients. More information here.

Sustainable Office Seminar, Tuesday, September 20, 8:00-11:00 am, at Bethesda Green. Five sustainable office specialists offer concepts and practical tips to help people thrive in your office and make your company a “Best Place to Work.” Register here. For more information contact: sustainable.office.alliance@gmail.com.

Community Service Week Info Session, Thursday, September 22, 12:00 – 1:00 pm, at Bethesda Green. Learn more about Community Service Week and how your group can get involved as well as tips on planning a project. For more information about Community Service Week, visit www.montgomeryserves.org.

U.S. Dep’t. of Energy Solar Decathlon,  Friday, September 23 – Sunday, October 2, West Potomac Park, National Mall, Washington, D.C.  Competing collegiate teams (including University of Maryland) exhibit cost-effective, energy-efficient, and attractive solar-powered houses designed, built and operated by the students.  This free event includes tours of the solar homes, consumer workshops and award ceremonies for the winning teams.

Forest Glen Park Stroll, Saturday September 24, 2:00 – 4:00. A Conservation Montgomery event. Forest Glen Park in Silver Spring is surrounded by Rock Creek Park. The walk includes the grounds of historic National Park Seminary. More information.

BG101, Thursday, September 29, 4:00 – 5:30 pm, at Bethesda Green. Join us for an orientation about Bethesda Green, our history, upcoming events and volunteer opportunities.

Taste of Bethesda, Saturday, October 1, 11:00 am – 4:00 pm, at Bethesda’s Woodmont Triangle. More than 55 restaurants and four stages of entertainment and a kid’s corner for face painting and arts & crafts. Information here.

Tour of Solar Homes, Saturday and Sunday, October 1 – 2, 11:00 am – 5:00 pm.  The 21st annual tour includes more than 50 homes in the greater DC area and highlights a variety of design, technology and sustainable living concepts. Tour Guides are available for $5 at My Organic Market (Mom’s) or online.

2011 Bethesda Green Gala, Wednesday, October 5, 6:00 – 10:00 pm, Round House Theatre. Come meet local folks from the businesses, non-profits, community organizations and individuals whose innovations, practices and lifestyles promote environmental sustainability — winners and runner-ups of the 2011 Bethesda Magazine Green Awards, who will be announced and recognized for their inspiring work in the environmental community. This promises to be an evening of sharing and connecting as a community where we celebrate our greener future. More information.

Montgomery County Community Service Week, October 16 – 22.  The Montgomery County Volunteer Center invites you and your group to participate. More information.

Green Home Expo, Saturday October 22, 10:00 am – 4:00 pm at Bethesda Green. Learn easy ways to green your home and save money.  Presentations will cover conservation, efficiency and renewable energy.  In addition to industry vendors, meet representatives from nonprofits and Montgomery County government. More information coming soon.

Community Forklift Fundraising Extravaganza, Saturday, October 22, 7:00 – 10:30 pm, 4671 Tanglewood Drive, Edmonston, MD. Entertainment by the DC Lady Arm Wrestlers, Silent auction, Wonky Dog food truck, DJ One HeART Muszik, and adult beverages! Must be 21 or over. Community Forklift is a low-cost building materials warehouse open to the general public and a project of Sustainable Community Initiatives, a 501c3 nonprofit. More information on tickets, sponsorships, or to donate a silent auction item.

A much-anticipated program for residents seeking to make energy improvements to their homes has been put on hold before it could launch, due to concerns raised by the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), the Montgomery Gazette reported last week.

The Home Energy Loan Program (HELP) would lend up to $25,000 to homeowners who had received an energy audit and wanted to make renewable energy and energy efficiency upgrades to their homes. Loan payments would be made over 15 years through a voluntary line item on the home’s property tax.

In this way, HELP would make it more attractive for homeowners to consider investing in energy improvements, which can be expensive.

The HELP loan would place a “first lien” on the property, so that if an owner defaults on their payments, the delinquent payments of the HELP loan would be paid off before the mortgage.

In policy-speak, HELP is a Property-Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program, one of many being proposed across the nation. A handful of states have successful PACE initiatives.

According to the Montgomery Gazette, the FHFA, which regulates Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the Federal Home Loan Banks, said July 6 that PACE programs would violate the agency’s principles in governing loans, and homeowners that obtain the loans could be in default of their mortgage agreement, face accelerated payments, and be prohibited from refinancing.

Eric Coffman, a senior energy planner with the county Department of Environmental Protection, said the county could not move forward with HELP with such risks hanging over the heads of homeowners.

Efforts are underway at the federal level to address the issue. The Gazette noted that the PACE Protection Act has been introduced in Congress.

Are you waiting for HELP to come before making energy improvements to your home? Discuss the issue here!

Useful Links:

  • Tonight there will be a free workshop in Environmental Site Design–the new norm for stormwater management in Maryland–from 7 to 9 p.m at the Audubon Naturalist’s Society’s Woodend campus in Chevy Chase.
  • Two D.C. business partners plan to open five Yes Organic Markets in low-income areas in D.C., including neighborhoods east of the Anacostia River.
  • Whole Foods Market will open a new store May 18 in Friendship Heights with a bread-breaking ceremony at 10 a.m. The store will host a Spa Night on May 20, featuring free facial treatments by Skin Organics founder Ann Webb. The store will be at 4420 Willard Ave.
  • Michael Shuman will discuss community economics at the ReThink Montgomery speakers series, Thursday, May 13 at 7:30 p.m. He is Director of Research and Economic Development for the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies. The talk takes place at Park & Planning headquarters, 8787 Georgia Ave. in Silver Spring.
  • Poolesville approves renewable energy sources and a farmer’s market. Ground- and roof-mounted solar energy systems and loop geothermal systems would be permitted on all properties. Small wind energy systems would be allowed in certain areas.

Got more news? Post it in a comment!