D.C. ups its 'clean and green' status with biggest wind deal of any U.S. city

Wed, 2015-07-22 06:00 -- Doug Peeples

Washington, D.C.'s Department of General Services (DGS) signed off on an agreement with Iberdrola Renewables for all of the output from the company's South Chestnut 46 MW wind farm in southwestern Pennsylvania.

Not only will the deal provide 35% of the electricity needed to power the District's government and save taxpayers millions in energy costs, it also means the city is that much closer to meeting its renewable energy goals.

"The District of Columbia is proud to lead the nation in the utilization of affordable green energy that creates jobs right here at home. The District is well on its way to achieving the Sustainable DC goal of using renewables to satisfy 50% of D.C.’s energy supply by 2032," Mayor Muriel Bowser said in a statement.

"Directly sourcing renewable power costs 30% less than fossil fuel-based sources, reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 100,000 tons, and protects our city from volatile energy price increases," according to DGS sustainability and energy management director Mark Chambers. "Put another way, over its 20-year span, this deal removes the same amount of carbon from our atmosphere as planting 44 million trees, or removing 18,000 cars from the road every year."

D.C.’s smart and sustainable track record
The Iberdrola deal is far from the District's only accomplishment in establishing itself as an innovator in sustainability and the built environment. A few examples:

  • Washington Canal Park is one of the first parks built as part of the District's Anacostia Waterfront Initiative. The three-acre park was built on a former parking lot for school buses and provides a place for people to gather as well as an economic boost for the surrounding neighborhood.
  • In its 2015 report, the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) ranked the District as the second in its listing of the country’s most energy efficient cities.
  • The U.S. Green Building Council ranked the District at the top of its list of jurisdictions with the most LEED-certified buildings in 2013.
  • D.C. also ranks consistently high in per capita park spaces.

The District government has been buying emission-free power through Renewable Energy Certificates since 2012, and will continue to use the credits to purchase the electricity the Iberdrola wind energy deal won't provide.

Learn more about D.C. at Smart Cities Week
The District is also the host city for Smart Cities Week, the first major North American conference and exhibition exclusively devoted to smart cities where participants will learn best practices, meet and network with prospective partners and learn about new technologies they can use in their cities. The event, organized by the Smart Cities Council and Clarion, will be held Sept. 15-17. Mayor Bowser will speak at the conference. Download the conference brochure.


Doug Peeples is a Portland, Oregon-based writer specializing in technology and energy. Follow @smartccouncil on Twitter.