Herndon, Va. - Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF), Washington Gas Energy Services, Inc. (WGES) and Sterling Planet will celebrate their unique public-private partnership today with their fourth annual tree planting event. WGES employees, customers and other volunteers will plant approximately 1,400 native trees and shrubs at Gravel Springs Farm in Union Bridge, Md., and a contribution of $135,000 to CBF's Carbon Reduction Fund will be presented, with $84,375 donated by WGES and $50,625 by Sterling Planet.
Held the weekend after Earth Day, the volunteer effort will contribute to improving the air and water quality in the Chesapeake Bay region. The native trees and shrubs will restore 5,000 feet or 10 acres of stream bank, preventing pollution and runoff into the Roop's Branch stream, which ultimately flows into the Atlantic Ocean via the Chesapeake Bay. The trees will also absorb carbon dioxide from the air. Volunteers at the event will include students from Northern Virginia Community College, a WGES customer that matches 35 percent of its natural gas use with WGES CleanSteps® Carbon Offsets, as well as WGES residential customers based in Carroll County, Md. This is the first year that WGES customers will participate in the annual event.
"Washington Gas Energy Services is wholly committed to providing affordable, market-driven options that allow residents and businesses to easily reduce their environmental impact" said Harry Warren, president of Washington Gas Energy Services. "This tree planting enables us to stand beside our customers and make a difference in our local environment today and into the future due to the unique structure of the WGES CleanSteps® Carbon Offset product"
WGES CleanSteps® Carbon Offsets reduce a natural gas customer's carbon footprint by matching local certified carbon offsets to the customer's natural gas use. A portion of the proceeds from all offsets purchased support the Carbon Reduction Fund, which is managed by CBF and used to develop future clean air and water projects, such as tree plantings, throughout the Chesapeake Bay region. Since its launch in 2010, the partnership has provided more than $540,000 in total contributions to the Carbon Reduction Fund. WGES sources carbon from two local projects, J.B. Hunt Intermodal Transport and the Worcester County, Md., Landfill Gas Project, which provide reductions in greenhouse gases, particulate emissions and nitrogen runoff. This distinctive approach creates both current and future benefits for the local environment.
In the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia, all WGES standard natural gas supply contracts for residential and small commercial customers include a baseline match of carbon offsets to natural gas use of 5 percent and 3.5 percent, respectively. Large commercial customers have the option to customize the percent of their natural gas that is matched with carbon offsets; both residential and small commercial customers can choose natural gas matched with 100 percent WGES CleanSteps® Carbon Offsets. Each year the average household enrolls in 100% WGES CleanSteps® Carbon Offsets, their home's environmental footprint is reduced at a level equivalent to removing one car off the road for one year.
"This tree planting, and the significant donation of $135,000, will help to save the Bay and improve local air and water quality today and into the future" said Dr. Beth McGee, senior water quality scientist, Chesapeake Bay Foundation. "This partnership and accompanying volunteer efforts exemplify the cooperation and innovation we will need to finally make our waters clean enough for swimming and fishing"
Carbon Reduction Fund projects have supported the planting of more than 10,000 trees in Maryland's Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Carroll, Frederick and Talbot counties to date. Over a 50-year lifespan, the environmental benefits of these trees equates to removing approximately 1,900 cars off the road for one year.
"Our partnership with Chesapeake Bay Foundation and Washington Gas Energy Services results in tangible benefits for the environment of the Chesapeake Bay region" said Alden Hathaway, senior vice resident of business development at Sterling Planet. "At Sterling Planet, we recognize that we must continue to explore sustainable business opportunities for citizens and organizations to work together to lessen their impact on our environment"
To learn more about WGES CleanSteps® Carbon Offsets and the Carbon Reduction Fund, visit http://www.wges.com/carbonoffsets.
About The Chesapeake Bay Foundation
The Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) is the only independent 501(c)(3) organization dedicated solely to restoring and protecting the Chesapeake Bay and its tributary rivers. Across the six-state Chesapeake watershed, CBF sets the agenda, serves as a watchdog, and speaks out on behalf of the Chesapeake Bay to business, government, and the public. www.cbf.org
About Washington Gas Energy Services, Inc.
Washington Gas Energy Services, Inc. is one of the largest competitive energy providers in the mid-Atlantic region. Washington Gas Energy Services supplies electricity, natural gas and green energy options to commercial and residential customers in Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia. In 2011, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) named Washington Gas Energy Services the Green Power Supplier of the Year in the non-utility category. Headquartered in Herndon, Va., Washington Gas Energy Services is an affiliate of Washington Gas, the regulated natural gas utility, and a subsidiary of WGL Holdings, Inc. (NYSE:WGL). www.wges.com