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Drink up, help the environment

Who knew that switching your energy bills from fossil fuels to wind power was as easy as drinking a couple of beers?

At the Brooklyn Brewery (79 North 11th Street) this past weekend, representatives from Community Energy Inc. were on hand to offer ConEdison customers the opportunity to enroll in their Solutions’ WIND power program, changing their residential or small business account from fossil fuels. In exchange for entering the WIND program, customers received two tokens for any of the eight beers Brooklyn Brewery offered on tap.

Wind power is a growing segment of the renewable energy options that ConEd and other energy companies offer their customers. Christine Nevin, of ConEdison Solutions, estimates that three percent of customers statewide use renewable power, which consists of a combination of wind and run−of−the−river hydropower. Today, about 60,000 families and small businesses are enrolled in the WIND program.

“Customers are used to sorting their garbage and buying recycled materials,” said Nevin. “Buying wind power is another one of those things that New Yorkers can do to preserve the environment.”

The Brooklyn Brewery hosted Community Energy and ConEdison Solution’s Wind Power Weekend after approached by Community Energy Inc. marketers who wanted to recognize the business’ long history using and promoting renewable energy.

“We were the first building in all of New York City to be 100 percent wind−powered,” said Brooklyn Brewery General Manager Eric Ottaway. “While this does cost us more, we feel it’s part of being a good corporate and community citizen.”

At this weekend’s event, 56 visitors to the brewery made the switch to wind power.

The WIND program costs 2.5 cents more per kilowatt−hour than standard electricity, which should average about 10 percent more per monthly bill, though that deterred few from enrolling in an energy program cleaner than coal or natural gas.

Doria Wright, a customer relations manager at the Brooklyn Brewery, said between 200 and 600 people came through brewers row Friday night for happy hour, and many expressed interest in switching to the program online.

Wright anticipates hosting several other tabling events at the brewery once a month throughout the summer, as more customers have been expressing an interest in renewable energy and doing their part to clean the environment.

“We’re trying to be a green company,” she said. “We use wind power. We’re in business with Community Energy and we’re happy to host them here. We’re very interested in trying to conserve energy and be kind to the environment.”

Though the wind turbine industry nationwide has stalled during the economic downturn, energy experts believe that customer interest in wind power will only increase in the coming years and venture capitalists could begin investing again in renewable resources.

For now, Brooklynites can count on utilizing turbines on wind farms in Madison County and Lewis County in upstate New York.

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CNG: Community Newspaper Group