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These Non-Profits get the Job Done

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In honor of Rev. Martin Luther King Day, let’s recognize a few wind powered nonprofits that help better the community each day.  Be it through planting trees, teaching math, coaching soccer, or providing housing, these organizations embody MLK’s call for service to others and to the community.

Environmental Conservation: Trees, Parks, & Water

DC’s Casey Trees works to protect the local tree canopy through planting programs, education, advocacy on the policy level, and community engagement.  You can plant with them beginning in March.

Washington Parks & People initiates city-wide green initiatives, including public health programs, green job training, park safety, and community cultivation. They have an EPA grant for Urban Gardens.

Maryland State Game and Fish Protective Association promotes natural resource conservation and good sportsmanship among hunters and fishers through advocacy efforts and various community events.

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Refer your Friends and get Rewarded!

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Are you looking for a way to make an impact in 2014? Here’s your chance: help your friends reduce their carbon footprint by nearly 40 percent and earn a $25 gift card to help you to stick to your New Year’s Resolutions!

We think 2014 can be a great year, and so we’re helping you and your friends reach your goals. In 2013, energy related carbon emissions rose. Help your friends leave dirty power behind and switch to clean energy. Together, we can increase demand for renewable resources and build a cleaner future.

We know helping the environment is all the incentive you and your friends need, but we’re hooking both you and your friends up with $25 to one of these awesome wind powered businesses when they switch to Clean Currents! Grab $25 to Sweetgreen, Hudson Trail Outfitters, or Bambeco to kick start your personal 2014 resolutions. Oh, and for each additional friend that joins Clean Currents by the end of February, we will enter you for a chance to win an additional $250 gift card to that business. Yeah, we’re just awesome like that.

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Keeps Night Top Ten Scariest Environmental Problems

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Dear Customers:

We are writing to inform you, with deep regret, that the recent extreme weather, which sent the wholesale electricity market into unchartered territories, has fatally compromised our ability to continue to serve customers.

We are extremely saddened to share this news with you.

What does this mean for you?

All Clean Currents customers will be returned to their utility service, effective immediately. You should see this change in service on your next bill, or the bill after that, dependent on your meter read cycle. If you so choose, you are able to switch to another third party electricity supplier, effective immediately. Clean Currents waives any advanced notice requirement or early termination fee provisions in our contracts.
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For Big Impact, Shop Small

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Skip the lines and crowds this Black Friday and instead join the Small Business Saturday movement. Started in 2010 by American Express, Small Business Saturday encourages consumers to visit brick and mortar small businesses for their holiday shopping rather than big box stores.

Small Business Saturday shifts your purchasing power to small mom and pop stores and in the process builds a stronger local community. According to American Express, consumers spent an estimated $5.5 billion as part of last year’s day.

Why is Small Business Saturday important? According to Think Local First DC, out of every $100 spent at a locally owned and operated business, about $68 stays in the local economy. As compared to $43 of every $100 spent at a nationally owned retailer. Building a strong local business community is critical to both job growth and the overall economic health of the areas in which we live and play. Learn more about supporting local businesses throughout the year at Think Local First DC.
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Cleaning Up DC’s Renewable Energy Law

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This fall, Chesapeake Climate Action Network (CCAN) and Clean Currents are urging  the D.C. City Council to clean up the District’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) and to promote the cleanest sources of energy — wind and solar.

Thirty states in the US have Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS). The RPS mandates that utilities purchase a certain percentage of renewable energy, generally ranging from 1% – 20% of their fuel mix. These standards help bring more clean energy online and establish a more secure market for clean energy development.

Currently, the DC RPS classifies old, high-emission black liquor and inefficient wood waste under their Tier 1 renewable energy standard. Therefore, these old, dirty sources of power are attributed to the RPS. Several Mid-Atlantic States, including Delaware and New Jersey, already get over 70% of their renewable energy portfolios from wind and solar power. However, the opposite is true for DC. For the past seven years, black liquor and wood waste made up 68% of DC’s RPS. Only 12% came from wind and solar power.
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Clean Currents Difference

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Our Mission: 

Energize communities for a clean energy future by enabling individuals and businesses to make responsible choices that protect their bottom line while reducing their environmental impact.

Our Core Principles:

Provide Exceptional Customer Service

Engage at the Community Level –

We are deeply involved with our customers, working in neighborhoods and in other local groups where we do business to promote a more sustainable lifestyle and build strong green-minded communities. We want to be an energy supplier that offers not only green energy but also a customer experience unmatched by other companies.

Profit but with a Purpose of Selling Exclusively Green – 

Unlike other companies that make most of their money by selling polluting power, we only focus on green power.
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The Inn at Horn Point

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In Annapolis you’ll find a bed & breakfast that combines 100 years of history with modern sustainability; and owner and proprietor Cory Bonney wouldn’t have it any other way. As a life long nature lover and photographer, Cory wanted the inn he purchased in 2000 to reflect his values as well.

Before its official opening as a B&B in 2002, there were a number of updates, upgrades, and expansions to make on the property. The building was previously a corner grocery store and home based business built at the turn of the 20th century. At the turn of the 21st century Cory began updating it for another type of home based business.

As part of the upgrades, Cory installed highly insulated windows and repurposed concrete siding and side boards to reduce the need for excessive heating or cooling of the house. The aluminum roof was coated with 20-year paint, a more durable, long term option. Cory took advantage of the strides forward in energy efficient household appliances, including replacing all the old inefficient incandescent light bulbs, using 5 zoned programmable thermostats for the air conditioning, and modern high efficiency washer and dryer units.
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Evolving from Vacant to Vibrant

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Over the past several months, Clean Currents has hosted Lots of Power — an initiative bringing together students and professional designers and architects to develop innovative concepts for specific vacant lots in Kensington. Two winning projects were recently chosen and profiled in the Philadelphia Inquirer. This fall, they will come to life — transforming two lots from vacant to vibrant.

Below Gary Skulnik, Clean Currents President, reflects on Kensington and the Lots of Power program.

First the factories closed down, and the families of those workers moved out along with the jobs. Kensington is no longer the thriving Philadelphia neighborhood it once was. However, like the first shoots of a new tree sprouting in a forest devastated by wildfire, hope is returning slowly, but strong and determined. Clean Currents’ Lots of Power program is a small contribution to the momentum of a community set in motion. We hope it will add sparks to a new wave of life and positive change in this community while preserving the character and the nature of the place its current residents call home.
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DC SEU Lights the Way to Energy Efficiency

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A few weeks ago, I interviewed Ben Fiske, the General Manager for Bedrock Billiards in Adams Morgan, to write a blog post about their impressive reduction in energy usage. After hearing about their upgrades and some of the rebate programs they used, I did some research on the DC Sustainable Energy Utility website. After finding the links I needed about their commercial rebates, I found myself poking around the “residential” section.

At the time, I was about to move into a new house so I was curious what I could do to improve my new place’s energy efficiency and lower my electric bill. Although as a renter I’m not likely to make a large purchase for my house like a new refrigerator or washing machine, I did pass on the information to my landlord so that if he was thinking of upgrading anything soon, he’d be able to save money (and hopefully keep my rent low).

The one place I could immediately make an impact was by replacing the lighting in the house. Lighting accounts for about 20% of electricity use for the year. I wanted to get LED bulbs because of their great light, instant-on feature, low energy use, and long life, but since they are a relatively new technology, I was worried they would be very expensive.
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Customer of the Month: The Baremore Family

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This month we feature Clean Currents solar thermal customers the Baremore family of Silver Spring, MD. They decided to install a solar thermal system on their home about a year ago. Now they share their experience with us.

What is something, beyond being a Clean Currents solar thermal customer, that you do in an effort to live a greener life?

We’re always looking for ways to reduce our environmental impact. Some of the things we do include:

  • Ride bikes, walk or take mass transit instead of driving
  • Drive a hybrid car and carpool whenever possible
  • Sign up for Clean Currents wind power!
  • Turn the thermostat up a couple of degrees in the summer to reduce cooling and down a couple of degrees in the winter to reduce heating
  • Eat a lot of vegetables

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Clean Currents Visits a Wind Farm!

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Last Saturday, I had the pleasure of visiting a wind farm with colleagues from Clean Currents. We visited Highland North Wind Farm in Cambria County, PA and boy was it cool! At Clean Currents, we sell two products. National Wind and Neighborhood Wind. All of our Neighborhood Wind comes from Highland North Wind Farm.

Our visit started at the farm’s headquarters where Brad, the site manager, gave us a rundown of his day-to-day overseeing the turbines and keeping things running smoothly. He’s armed with high-tech software that lets him adjust the turbines in real time and a team of engineers ready for dispatch at a moment’s notice. He even has an app on his phone that lets him shut off a turbine on the fly.

After we got a peek into a day in the life of Brad, we hopped in our cars and drove into the heart of the farm. Highland North has 30 wind turbines (not wind mills, as Brad pointed out — those grind flour) and these 30 turbines have blades that are over 300 feet in diameter (almost as long a football field). Together, these 30 turbines produce enough electricity to power approximately 18,000 homes each year.

Brad demonstrates the thermal imaging camera

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The EPA Proposes Carbon Pollution Standards for New Power Plants

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As we all know, the government is currently shutdown. But, once those 700,000 federal employees are back to their regular grind, things will pick up right where they left off (well, we hope). So, we’re digging into the EPA’s proposed carbon pollution standards for new power plants.

On September 20th, 2013, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed carbon-pollution standards for future coal and natural gas power plants. This was the EPA’s first step in moving forward on President Obama’s Climate Action Plan announced this past June. Currently, about one third of all greenhouse gas pollution in the U.S. comes from electricity generation at power plants.

When presenting the EPA’s proposal, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy commented “Climate Change is one of the most significant public health challenges of our time. By taking commonsense action to limit carbon pollution from new power plants, we can slow the effects of climate change and fulfill our obligation to ensure a safe and healthy environment for our children.”
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McCabe’s Cooks up a Sustainable Future

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McCabe’s Restaurant in Hampden is taking on sustainable dining one dish at a time. After reading a review on Yelp which described McCabe’s as having “…soul of a West Village gastropub”, we had to learn more. We sat down with Cora Flynn, General Manager to discover all the different ways this Hampden gem is embracing sustainable dining.

CC: Why did you think it was important to support clean, renewable wind energy?

CF: We feel it is important to support clean, renewable wind energy because we are invested in the future for our children and would like them to live in an environment that is healthy and viable.  Choosing a sustainable resource is just one way in which we feel we are reducing our impact globally and locally.

CC: Why did you pick Clean Currents?

CF: We chose Clean Currents because it is community oriented, an environmentally responsible choice and it was surprisingly affordable.
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Winners Chosen in “Lots of Power”, A Contest to Transform Vacant Lots

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Teams made up of teens and design professionals from throughout the Philadelphia region

Two winners have been chosen in “Lots of Power,” an initiative sponsored by wind power company Clean Currents  focused on one of Philadelphia’s greatest problems, vacant lots. Over a six-week period, five teams of high-school age students and professional designers and architects have developed innovative concepts for specific vacant lots in Kensington.  The two winning concepts–one chosen by a panel of jurors, and another by the public, via social media–will receive a grant provided by Clean Currents to be implemented.

“Lots of Power came directly from conversations that we had with Philadelphia residents, many of whom named vacant land as one of the largest problems in their communities,” said Gary Skulnik, President of Clean Currents. “We had five outstanding concepts submitted, and we are confident that the winning concepts will help transform their neighborhoods in a way that benefits everyone.”

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The Wind Beneath Blackbird Pizzeria’s Wings

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Three years ago today, Mark Mebus and Ryan Moylan opened Blackbird Pizzeria, a (that’s right you guessed it) 100% vegan restaurant specializing in pizza that dabbles in sandwiches, salads, and wings (okay, maybe you did not guess the vegan part).  More than just a niche market endeavor, Mark and Ryan set out to create an extension of themselves as individuals.

Blackbird Pizzeria began to manifest itself about 15 years ago when Mark made the decision to become vegan.  He also attended the Natural Gourmet School in New York and has worked in two vegan restaurants over the last decade.  His partner, Ryan Moylan, a graphic designer educated at the School of Visual Arts in New York is also vegan–so there was really no question in their mind that their restaurant would be vegan.

There was also no question of whether or not Blackbird would run on clean, renewable energy.  With a commitment to sustainability, and a little peer pressure from their circle of friends, Mark and Ryan now run Blackbird on 100% wind power.  In addition, the restaurant sources from local farms, uses compostable packaging, turns used fry oil into biodiesel, and recycles and composts when possible.  “We feel as though everyone should be considering the environment”, Mark explains.
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Forming a Green Generation

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The Alpert Family Aleph Bet Jewish Day School has some really fantastic sustainability initiatives on campus! Head of School Nan Jarashow spoke with us, familiarizing us with this impressive new member of the Clean Currents family.

Aleph Bet is a tight-knit community, educating fewer than 40 elementary students. In 2011, they moved into a new facility, and sustainability started taking precedence. They immediately strove for Maryland Green School certification, which they achieved in 2012. This program assesses factors such as facility construction and operations, curriculum, and school practices.

Aleph Bet dove head first into involving the young student body, getting them excited for clean practices and sustainability. The school focuses on waste, educating students to separate everything between trash, recycling, and compost. Nan told us of a particularly feisty first grade girl who is now “the recycling police” and heartily reprimands anyone who even considers incorrectly disposing of something!
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Electricity Deregulation

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Customer Choice in a Deregulated Electricity Market

Nineteen states – including Maryland, Washington, DC, and Pennsylvania – have deregulated electricity markets.  Deregulation segments the three main components of electricity service (GenerationTransmission, and Distribution) and allows competitive suppliers like Clean Currents to take part in the process.  The competition that results from deregulation benefits customers by offering new electricity products (like wind power) and various price options.  Customers still have the option of remaining on their utility’s Standard Offer Service (SOS), but as more people realize they have a choice when it comes to their electric supplier, more are taking the initiative to make the switch.

 

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Catering Wherever the Wind Blows

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The pioneering spirit runs strong in the Wool family. Mitch Wool owns The Bean Bag Deli & Catering in Rockville. Although the deli moved locations several times, the Wool family has been in business for 36 years! When his parents started the company in the late 1970′s, there were only three coffee shops in the entire DC area, making them, in Mitch’s words, “true pioneers”. This entrepreneurial spirit clearly passed to the next generation; not only is Mitch a pioneer of clean energy as a customer of Clean Currents, he continually drives his family’s business in diverse new directions.

Although loyal lunch customers visit the deli itself, catering has become the business’ most dynamic and exciting aspect. The Bean Bag fills virtually any request, from mobile espresso bars to tantalizing sandwich menus to specialty donut stations. Often, Mitch even accommodates customers’ requests for uncommon, off-the-menu items. This includes teaching himself how to prepare crab and purchasing the necessary equipment for an omelet bar!
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Awards & Recognition

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It’s nice to be recognized for our leadership in empowering businesses and individuals to support clean energy. Here is where we brag a little:

B Corp – 2013 Best for the World, Environmental Impact

Green America – People & Planet Award Fall 2012

Renewable Energy Markets – Best Marketing Campaign by a Green Power Supplier 2011

#196 in Inc. Magazine’s 2011 List of 500 Fastest Growing Companies in America

The Gazette of Politics and Business 2011 P&B53 List of Exceptional Companies

B Corp, Rookie of the Year and Double Dip Award 2011
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Why Support Clean Renewable Wind Power?

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Clean Currents notes four major rationales for supporting renewable energy:

Energy Security & Independence:

Supplies of fossil fuels that power our automobiles and electric generators come from increasingly unstable parts of the world.  Although most coal power that is used to generate electricity in the United States comes from domestic sources, a large percentage of the oil, diesel, and natural gas that is used to supply our electric generators comes from abroad.  Abundant and free wind and sun grace our country and we should harness it in order to secure a more stable energy future.

Decrease Air Pollution & Ecosystem Destruction:

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Bedrock Billiards – Racking up the Savings

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Tucked away on Columbia Road behind the bustling main drag of Adams Morgan’s 18th Street sits Bedrock Billiards.  This neighborhood favorite is constantly bustling with patrons venturing in to enjoy the craft beers on tap, shuffle board table, large TVs playing whatever sports are in season, and of course the billiards tables.

Keeping this show running is no easy task. It  requires a lot of energy both in the form of General Manager Ben Fiske’s attention, and in the kind that keeps the lights on and the beer cold.

At Clean Currents, we monitor our customers’ energy use patterns to help identify large changes. We noticed a large drop over a 2-year period in Bedrock Billiards’ energy use and decided to investigate.

Turns out Bedrock Billiards was tired of wasting money on high energy bills and chose to do something about it. Through a mix of big and small changes, they were able to bring down their electricity bill by about $200 a month.
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Our Green Commitment

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At Clean Currents, we believe that businesses have a responsibility to protect and improve the natural environment while conducting their operations.

Our commitment to environmental stewardship runs through all facets of our operations, including:

  • Offsetting all of our electric, operational, and travel-related greenhouse gas emissions
  • Purchasing environmentally friendly products
  • Providing a green benefits package to employees
  • Maximizing energy-efficiency in the office
  • Recycling all office-related materials
  • Supporting sustainable business partners and associations
  • Lobbying for positive environmental legislation

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Honoring the Body, Spirit and Environment

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When speaking with Anthony V. Wojnar D.D., RMT, founder and Senior Teacher & Practitioner at Life Holistic Center, the tranquility of the man is immediately apparent. He is deliberate and insightful, revealing layers of meaning throughout our conversation.

Anthony is a reiki master. Reiki is a spiritual practice that connects the human consciousness with the energy of the universe by drawing it through the crown chakra and channeling through the palms. Reiki can promote healing on many levels: physical, emotional, mental and spiritual, while also helping with relaxation, stress and pain relief.

In our conversation with Anthony, there was plenty of cause for reflection. He described his journey to self healing when conventional medicine was ineffective against his chronic fatigue. Anthony now runs his practice from his newly constructed Violet Studio- which is attached to his residence- not only working to heal individuals, but also taking on students with whom he shares the teachings of reiki.
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Wine and Wind

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A staple of the Silver Spring community will soon celebrate its tenth anniversary. Adega Wine Cellars & Café opened its doors in August 2003, and has been satisfying customers’ cravings for tasty food and spectacularly curated wines and beers ever since. In honor of this exciting milestone, we spoke with manager Jarrod Jabre.

Immediately upon entering the café, I could tell that this was different than any other place I have been. The atmosphere is open and spacious, yet quaint. Their extensive selection of wine and beer is displayed throughout the dining area, resulting in a very cool, laid-back vibe. The chalk-written menu indicates fresh food made with care, and many of the wines represent local Maryland vineyards.

Jarrod is the face of the company. With the support of owner Walter Rhee, he is a driving force behind much of Adega’s efforts. Not only did he spearhead the process of converting both his home and Adega to Clean Currents wind energy, but he also oversaw the café’s switch to entirely biodegradable to-go materials.
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The Home-Business Connection

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Entrepreneur Bob London embodies the link between sustainability in business and in personal life. Bob has a stellar, forward-thinking disposition. As a senior marketing executive for several large companies over the years, Bob recognized small and medium businesses’ need for marketing expertise and leadership, despite lacking the funds to hire a full-time executive. From this, London, Ink was born.

Through his business-to-business consulting firm, companies have access to Bob’s marketing expertise without the expense and risk of hiring a full-time senior marketing executive. Bob calls his role “Virtual VP of Marketing,” –sometimes referred to as “Outsourced Chief Marketing Officer” or CMO–allowing him to serve companies on an interim basis and explore these clients in order to determine the best marketing approach for them. The increased flexibility of having a portfolio rather than a single employer allows Bob to work out of his home.

He found the inspiration to make the switch to wind power from his children. Bob’s two sons are increasingly conscious of sustainability issues, from food ethics to pollution. Bob cites his children’s engagement as motivation; he wants to live a life that makes his kids proud.
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Lots of Power

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When Clean Currents opened in Philadelphia, we wanted to learn more about the challenges facing our new city’s neighborhoods.

The answer: Vacant Lots

About the Project

Lots of Power brings high-school-age youth together with creative professionals – including architects and designers – to develop innovative ways to use vacant lots for the benefit of the Kensington community.  Over six weeks, teams will examine sustainable uses for vacant lots that will improve the community.

Two winning concepts will be chosen through a jury process and public voting this fall.  Two teams will recieve grants to implement their projects – giving them the power to be the change in their community.

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What are Renewable Energy Certificates (recs)?

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What is a REC?

A REC stands for a Renewable Energy Certificate. RECs were created by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as tools to track the environmental benefits associated with renewable energy.  One REC is equivalent to 1000 kWh of renewable energy produced – which is roughly the amount of energy that an average single-family home in the Mid-Atlantic consumes in one month.  When a renewable energy generator such as a wind farm produces electricity, it places that electricity onto the electric grid.  The electric grid collects electricity from all power generators (coal, oil, natural gas, wind farms, nuclear reactors, hydro dams, solar panel fields, etc).  This aggregated electricity is then transmitted through wires to homes and businesses.

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Fabulous Food and Fun at Eat Local First Week

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Clean Currents staff with Ben’s Chili Bowl’s Nizam Ali

It’s summer in DC and that means two things: It’s really, really hot and there’s a smorgasbord of delicious local food. That’s why we can’t wait for Eat Local First Week July 22-28th. Eat Local First Week is part of Think Local First DC’s campaign promoting a sustainable AND local economy. The event is a week-long celebration of local food and restaurants.

This year’s theme is “Crops, Commerce and Community: How Local Food Grows a City”, and the week is packed with events. Tours of edible gardens, “Femivore Talks”, and brewery tasting all topped off with the Farm-to-Street Party at the end of the week.

Since we love all things local, Clean Currents is donating $30 to Think Local First for each household that switches to wind power before July 31st. By switching to wind power with Clean Currents, you’re not only keeping our air cleaner but also supporting the local economy.

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