By Anna Lothson
Oak Park has been named a Green Power Community by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for its decision to choose renewable energy sources for its community electricity aggregation program.
Green Power Communities are cities, towns and villages where the local government, businesses and residents collectively buy green power in amounts that meet or exceed EPA's purchase requirements as part of the Green Power Partnership.
Oak Park is the newest of 32 Green Power Communities nationwide and currently ranks first in terms of highest green power percentage of total electricity use and fifth in amount of green power used.
By collectively purchasing 191 million kilowatt-hours of green power annually, officials say Oak Park will use renewable power sources to meet 83 percent of the community's total electricity use. As part of its commitment to becoming a Green Power Community, the Village also is purchasing 7 percent green power for its municipal operations.
"Joining the ranks of the EPA's Green Power Communities is a tremendous honor," K.C. Poulos, Oak Park's sustainability manager said. "Purchasing green power for our citizens and businesses is helping our community become more sustainable, as well as sending a message to other communities across the U.S. that supporting clean sources of electricity is a sound business decision and an important choice in reducing climate risk."
Green power is electricity generated from environmentally preferable renewable resources, such as wind, solar, geothermal, biogas, biomass and low-impact hydro. Officials say purchasing green power helps accelerate the development of new renewable energy capacity nationwide and helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the power sector.
According to the U.S. EPA, Oak Park's collective green power purchase of 191 million kilowatt-hours is equivalent to avoiding the carbon dioxide emissions of nearly 26,000 passenger vehicles per year, or the carbon dioxide emissions from the electricity use of more than 16,000 average American homes annually.
For information on the Green Power program, visit epa.gov/greenpower.