Saturday, August 18, 2001

EPA centers to use 'green power'

Methane gas, wind will be electricity source for 3 labs

By Dan Klepal
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Wind from Pennsylvania and methane gas from garbage dumps in Illinois will provide electricity for three U.S. Environmental Protection Agency research facilities in Cincinnati.

        The EPA has signed a three-year contract to use 100 percent renewable energy as fuel for its facilities here and in a handful of other cities.

        The “green power” starts flowing in October. By early next year, the federal EPA will rely on renewable energy for 9 percent of its power nationwide.

        Rhonda Hampton, a mechanical engineer for the EPA who also serves as the agency's energy coordinator in Cincinnati, said the renewable energy will cost the agency about 6 percent more than electricity from Cinergy's coal-burning plants.

        “We are paying a small premium,” Ms. Hampton said. “But there are tremendous environmental benefits and the health benefits. Also, it's going to assist in boosting the market for green power alternatives.”

        Here's how it works: Wind churns large mills in Pennsylvania and methane gas is used to turn turbines in Illinois, both producing energy. That “green power” will then be conveyed to the EPA's plants in Cincinnati through Cinergy's lines.

        There's another reason for the government to buy green power, besides supplying a market for burgeoning companies.

        “We want to set an example for the rest of the country,” said Chris Paulitz, an EPA spokesman in Washington.

        The Andrew W. Breidenbach Environmental Research Center in Clifton — which does research for Superfund cleanup sites and for pollution control — is the EPA's largest research facility in town. The two other facilities in Cincinnati — on Center Hill Avenue and Gest Street — provide research in solid-waste management, hazardous materials and landfill bio reactor design.


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