REGIONAL – Creating clean energy for businesses and households in Connecticut became a step closer as Chester became the second town in the Connecticut River Valley area to join the Connecticut Clean Energy Communities Program.
The program aims to answer the dangers Al Gore discussed in his recent film “An Inconvenient Truth” who believes if nothing is done to reduce harmful pollutants, global sea levels could rise causing devastation to coastal areas, more frequent and more intense heat waves, and more frequent droughts will occur in many inland locations.
The Connecticut Clean Energy Communities Program aims to reduce harmful pollutants, reduce demand on the state’s transmission and distribution system, and support locally-produced sustainable energy sources.
According to the Smart Power website, the 20 percent by 2010 Clean Energy Campaign is a “challenge cities and towns, faith communities, colleges and universities, and businesses to start choosing clean energy.”
Smart Power Program Coordinator Keri Enright said towns joining the campaign adapt formal resolutions to buy clean energy to power municipal buildings and services.
While Chester signed up in May and has 25 residents who joined the program, Essex signed up this past February with 26 residents in the program, Enright said.
Every 100 residents that enroll in the program will allow a town to receive a one kilowatt hour, kWh, solar power system and officially designates the town as a “clean energy community.”
Other towns aiming to meet this challenge include Harwington, Wethersfield, Easton, Plainville, Orange, Cheshire, Woodbridge, Trumbull, New Britain, Westport, Bethany and Canton.
Residents in several communities have already showed their support for clean energy.
Branford, New Haven, Milford, Fairfield, Stamford, Hamden, Portland, Middletown, Hartford, West Hartford, Glastonbury, and Mansfield all have more than 100 residents who are participating in the program.
While most Connecticut River Valley towns do not currently participate in the Connecticut Clean Energy Communities Program, all Connecticut Light and Power customers can still choose an environmental alternative to traditional sources of energy.
Sterling Plant and Community Energy are two independent companies Connecticut Clean Energy recommends consumers consider when looking for clean energy.
Enright confirmed the average resident uses between 600 and 700 kWh of electricity per month but usage is based on a number of factors.
The Sterling Planet 100 percent option costs an additional 1.15 cents per kWh, while the 50 percent option costs 0.575 cents per kWh more.
The average consumer can expect to spend between $6.90 and $8.05 if choosing the 100 percent option and between $3.45 and $4.03 for the 50 percent option.
Sterling Planet states their electricity is made up of “33% new wind, 33% small hydro, and 34% new landfill gas,” all pollution-free, environmentally-friendly sources of energy which currently has the capacity to power over 95,000 homes.
“For comparison, the current average mix of energy sources supplying the New England region is 36.13 percent natural gas, 31.60 percent nuclear, 11.44 percent oil, 8.24 percent coal, 3.16 percent hydro, 5.28 percent imported power, and 4.15 percent other sources,” Sterling Planet’s website states.
Offering different prices and different ratio of energy sources is Community Energy with a 100 percent option at an additional 1.1 cents per kWh while the 50 percent plan is .55 cents per kWh more.
While an average resident choosing the 100 percent option will pay an extra $6.60 to $7.70, the 50 percent option costs an extra $3.45 to $4.03.
The Community Energy Company offers customers 50 percent NewWind Energy and 50 percent landfill gas energy.
NewWind Energy comes from state-of-the-art windmills and is pollution-free, the Community Energy Company website states.
Over 35,000 residential customers throughout the United States have signed up for New Wind Energy.
“Poor air quality, regional haze, smog, acid rain, nuclear waste disposal, and global warming are the well-documented side effects of traditional fossil fuel and nuclear power plants,” according to the NewWind Energy website.
Connecticut Clean Energy Options website states other companies supply clean energy options to but recommends consumers verify if they are certified by Green-e or ERT to ensure minimum standards for clean, renewable electricity are met.