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06-03-06 Midwest Electric offers alternative energy to customers

By William Kincaid

  Is there anything one person can do help stop the depletion of traditional sources of energy?

  According to Matt Berry, the customer service manager at Midwest Electric Co-op, local residents can play a role in preserving the environment.

  Midwest Electric announced that a renewable, green-powered energy now is being offered to its electric cooperative members. EnviroWatts will improve the environment, reduce dependence on fossil fuels and fund the research and development of new energy options for the future, according to a press release from Berry.

  "There's a growing interest for this type of option," Berry told The Daily Standard this week. "We feel this would be something our consumers may have some interest in."

  Berry said that as organic waste decays in landfills, a methane gas is produced and can be collected. Buckeye Power, who supplies Midwest with its energy, then uses the gas as a source to power the turbines of a generator to create electricity.  "It's good for the environment. It collects methane gas and puts it to a productive use," Berry said. "It reduces our dependence on fossil fuels ... it's offsetting coal production."

  A 100-kilowatt hour block -- Midwest's standard unit of electricity -- costs $7.50. Customers now can buy into EnviroWatts, sold in the same hour block, for $2 more, he said. He added the average number of kilowatts sold to area customers is 1,300.

  "We realize not everyone is going to be interested," Berry said. "But it's a choice. We think it's fairly cost effective."

  Midwest will use the revenues to continue exploring alternative avenues such as wind turbine power. Berry said "it's hard to say" how long it will take until viable alternative sources become a primary or mainstream form of energy for Ohio residents.

  Although there are successful wind farms out west, Berry said it is a little more difficult to retain a similar, efficient operation in Ohio because of inconsistent wind speeds -- except for a few pockets near Bowling Green.


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