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National Association of Counties
Washington, D.C.

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 EPA launches Green Power Community Challenge

By Cindy Wasser
COMMUNITY SERVICES ASSISTANT

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Green Power Partnership recently kicked off its national Green Power Community Challenge, a year-long campaign to encourage counties, cities, towns and Native American tribes to use renewable energy and fight climate change. The goal is to double the collective amount of green power used by participating communities.

Green power is electricity generated from renewable energy sources, such as solar photovoltaics, wind, biomass and low-impact hydropower.

Communities will compete from Sept. 20, 2010, to Sept. 1, 2011 to see which one can use the most green power and which one can achieve the highest green power percentage of total electricity use. The winning communities will be declared in September 2011 and receive recognition from EPA. Throughout the challenge, EPA will provide in-depth technical assistance to assist participants in increasing their green power usage.

Interested counties can still join the challenge. To participate, a county government must join the Green Power Partnership and use green power in amounts that meet EPA purchase requirements. The county must also implement a campaign to encourage local businesses and residents to collectively buy or produce green power on-site.

The Green Power Partnership is a voluntary program designed to promote and recognize the use of green power by leading U.S. organizations and communities. Nearly 1,300 organizations are Green Power Partners, including a growing number of counties, such as Dekalb County, Ga., Eagle County, Colo. and Clark County, Wash. Today, the Partnership is collectively using 2.1 billion kilowatt-hours of green power — more than 10 percent of the partnership’s total energy use.

"Montgomery County was one of the first jurisdictions in the country to set a goal of reducing 80 percent of greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, and purchasing green power is essential to meeting that goal," said Montgomery County, Md. Executive Isiah Leggett. "The decision to purchase clean energy is vital to improving our environment, but in these difficult economic times, it also makes good business sense."

By using the free resources available from EPA, Green Power Partners have experienced savings in time, effort and cost of buying green power. In addition, they can better estimate the environmental benefits of switching to green power and promote their commitment to media and their local communities.

To learn more about EPA’s Green Power Community Challenge, visit www.epa.gov/greenpower/communities. To learn more about the Green Power Partnership, visit www.epa.gov/greenpower.