Just a few miles from downtown Washington, D.C., the City of Mount Rainier in Maryland is known as a haven for artists and longtime sustainability leader. Mount Rainier first committed to clean air and water goals in the early 1970’s, and today boasts a rain garden, solar panels on the city municipal building, and one of the first “green” police facilities in the country, among other initiatives.
Mount Rainier turned to Groundswell in 2016 to help the City switch to 100% wind power and save 10% on its annual electricity bill. We caught up with Jessica Love, a program coordinator with the Mount Rainier Department of Public Works, about the City’s experience with wind power so far.
On Mt. Rainier’s sustainability goals
The City participates in the University of Maryland’s Sustainable Maryland Certified Communities program, which provides support for communities working toward their green goals. We have a green team, which was instrumental in connecting the City with Groundswell. And recently, we signed onto the Compact of Mayors and reaffirmed the city’s commitment to reducing our greenhouse gas emissions and reducing our impact on climate change.
On the equity component
I think sustainability is a three-pronged stool that includes environment, as well as community and the economy. The goals for Mount Rainier definitely incorporate all three. It’s important for the City to make sure that the whole community is served. The specific reason for working with Groundswell to switch over to renewable electricity was that we found that there was a cost savings associated with the switch, so we could use that money to provide services to the community, as well as to further our environmental and clean energy goals.
The City’s green team was interested in reducing our carbon footprint, reducing our greenhouse gas emissions, and also the cost savings. We do have some renewable energy productions in the City, such as solar PV panels on City Hall – but it wasn’t enough to meet our electricity demands. So that’s why we chose to go with wind power from Groundswell.
On the City’s experience with wind power
We initially signed on for a one-year contract, and we were happy with the service. We saw that there would be continued benefit to using Groundswell to negotiate our contract with Constellation Energy. And there was an increased cost savings associated with signing on for a four-year contract, so it was even more worthwhile.
On how the City’s switch to wind impacts residents
I do feel that the role of government is partially to lead by example. Groundswell has made it so easy to switch to renewable energy. By demonstrating that it is doable and cost effective, we can help the community see that it’s an option. And we can use the cost savings on much-needed services like street maintenance, facility improvements, green infrastructure improvements, and more.