U Street Firms Convert to Clean Energy

Clean Currents, a broker of alternative energy sources like wind power that I wrote about earlier this month, has signed a deal with a group of businesses in Washington's U Street neighborhood in Northwest.

The firms will switch their source of electricity to 100 percent renewable wind power in an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The converts include bars and restaurants such as Bar Pilar, Don Juan's, Dos Gringos Cafe, Rumba Cafe and Saint Ex. Business incubator Affinity Lab also signed on, along with business service provider Base Camp and pet supplier Pet Essentials.

Beginning in October, these small businesses will receive clean energy from a three-year deal that Clean Currents brokered with Washington Gas Energy Services, a unit of Washington Gas.

Some of these firms will save about 8 percent on their electricity bills during the first year of the agreement and save more later, according to Clean Currents President Gary Skulnik. The more energy a business uses, whether it's due to square footage or type, the greater the potential savings. However, others that signed on may have to pay up to an additional 10 percent the first year, but they won't see any additional price increases for the length of the contract.

For example, a large cafe that is open all the time may see greater energy savings up front, but a smaller place with more traditional business hours that isn't a big electricity hog (relatively) will have to wait a little longer before the effects of the energy savings deal are seen.

Base Camp owner Raj Thakuri said he signed on even though his firm initially will have a higher electricity bill, because "clean energy is always good for people, the environment and business." Base Camp specializes in services such as copying. Thakuri notes that his firm uses 100 percent recycled paper, which is more expensive that regular paper, "so we understand that sometimes you have to pay more to protect the environment."

"I commend these small businesses for stepping up to the challenge even if they're not loaded with money," said Skulnik.

A similar group of firms in the U Sttreet area, which has seen economic growth during the last several years, signed on with Clean Currents in May. Clean Currents plans to announce on Wednesday that six small businesses in Baltimore's Hampden retail district have inked a similar deal.

By Sharon McLoone |  September 18, 2007; 8:00 AM ET
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Please email us to report offensive comments.

Thank you for getting the word out on clean energy alternatives! The more the public is aware, the more we can all help the environment.

Posted by: Stuart Bassin | September 21, 2007 2:23 PM

WGES is going door-to-door in DC trying to get residents to sign up with them for residential gas/power. The Post would be doing its readers a great service if it were to publish a series of articles that really laid out our options. Is WGES the most economical choice? What are the other choices? Does signing up with WGES actually encourage the development of more renewable energy resources? Isn't there a shortage of wind turbines that prevents poser companies from bringing more of them on line, regardless of what choices consumers make right now? Tell us where the smoke and mirrors are. Thanks.

Posted by: Neil Froemming | December 11, 2007 12:21 AM

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