D.C. sets example with major wind energy purchase

While Congress continues to debate extending the renewable energy Production Tax Credit and Investment Tax Credit, the nation’s capital city just endorsed wind power in a big way. On August 12th, Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser announced a new power purchase agreement (PPA) for wind energy from an Iberdrola Renewables windfarm in southwestern Pennsylvania.

Wind power will supply the District of Columbia’s government buildings with 35 percent of their electricity, all while saving $45 million for D.C. taxpayers over the next 20 years. Mayor Bowser stated in a press release that the purchase was to “boost our economy and create cleaner air for current and future generations”:

“The District of Columbia will continue to lead the nation in the fight against climate change. We are supporting green building, promoting energy and water efficiency, and fostering renewable energy. This wind agreement exemplifies how my Administration will use energy policy to boost our economy and create cleaner air for current and future generations.”

The agreement, which is the largest purchase of wind energy by a U.S. city to-date, has already come into effect as of August 1st.

In this case, the D.C. government, not residents, is the recipient of wind energy. In other parts of the country, wind energy is lowering consumers’ electricity bills. The Midwest utility system operator, MISO, has noted that wind power “ultimately helps keep prices low for our customers”, and a Synapse Energy Economics report found that doubling the use of wind energy in the PJM Interconnection (which includes Washington, D.C.) would save consumers close to $7 billion per year.

Though D.C. is one of the first major American cities to directly purchase wind energy, it joins other municipalities like Georgetown, Texas (not to be confused with the D.C. neighborhood). Earlier this year, the City of Georgetown opted to be powered entirely by renewable energy, primarily because low-cost wind and solar energy will bring savings. Other cities have chosen to buy Renewable Energy Credits, which help to green the electricity supply, but don’t guarantee a long-term, stable price for electricity.

The District’s PPA is yet another example of major non-utility businesses and organizations buying wind energy because it saves money, provides long-term price certainty and emits no carbon pollution. Other notable non-utility purchasers of wind power who have been in the news lately include Amazon, Facebook and Hewlett Packard.

This D.C. resident is glad to see the city join the trend.