Green Energy Firm of Five Hopes to Convert 5,000

Clean Currents, a "clean energy" broker is finalizing a joint marketing partnership with Washington Gas Energy Services to offer 5,000 residents throughout eligible portions of Maryland and the District of Columbia the option of powering their homes via wind and other renewable energy sources.

Clean Current's Gary Skulnik in front of Ben's Chili Bowl on U Street announces a group of U St. businesses that have pledged to use clean energy.

The firm plans to solicit residents by partnering with even more groups such as the Chesapeake Climate Change Action Network, known as CCAN. "By partnering with CCAN, we can reach out to its 12,000 members," said Clean Currents President Gary Skulnik during an interview at the company's office in the new Rockville Innovation Center, an incubator for small businesses in Maryland.

Clean Currents, which has three partners and two part-time employees, conducted a pilot residential program in Catonsville, Md., in April. "We had hoped to recruit 100 people for that program, but response was so great that 300 people participated," he said. The Catonsville residents signed a two-year contract for 100 percent wind power. "We didn't save those residents considerable money up front, but we did lock them into a fixed energy rate for two years," Skulnik explained.

Clean Currents has already signed on 60 companies to convert to wind power, including recent groups from Washington's U Street area and Baltimore's Hamden neighborhood. The companies don't pay Clean Currents to participate in the energy-efficient program. Rather, Clean Currents gets a commission from an alternative energy supplier such as Washington Gas Energy Services of Herndon, Va., for bringing customers to it.
Washington Gas Energy is an alternative energy supplier that buys power from wind farms located in the mid-Atlantic region. It is an affiliate of the dominant Washington Gas utility that generates power for most of the D.C. metro region.

"We are trying to build a community of like-minded businesses and residents who really care about the environment and about doing something about it," said Skulnik, who has just started moving into the residential market. He envisions a day when residents will use a Clean Currents affinity card at businesses that buy clean energy to get discounts and other perks.

"The more residents who sign on, the more business we get," he said.

By Sharon McLoone |  September 4, 2007; 7:00 AM ET Profiles in Entrepreneurship
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