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Boulder County Business Report Carbon Offset article

Carbon offset programs helping fund renewable projects (excerpts)

By Elizabeth Gold

wind farm turbines rainbow The U.S. Department of Energy projects that in 2030 electric power consumption and the accompanying infrastructure to produce and deliver electricity in the U.S. will be close to 43 percent greater than it is today.

With the rising demand and the continued dependence on nonrenewable energy resources to meet it, the urgency of alternative energy sources is moving up the list of priorities.

When individuals and organizations purchase renewable energy credits, they support projects that develop sources like wind power. Carbon offsets, in the form of verified emission reductions, help consumers reduce their environmental impact by investing in projects that offset carbon emissions.

Locally, businesses are doing their part in a number of ways - from recycling, reusing and reducing reliance on nonrenewable resources to investing in carbon offsets and supporting renewable energy

Sterling-Rice Group Inc., an advertising and marketing firm in Boulder, for example, has combined a few strategies to mitigate the ecological strain. As a team, they brainstormed ways to conserve and came up with ideas like setting the company's six printers to print on two-sided paper. The result equals a savings of 10,000 sheets of paper per printer per year, said Jay Waddell, managing director and partner.

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"We also buy carbon offsets for driving, travel and energy uses as well as invest in wind energy," Waddell added.

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"There are wind farms in most states," said Quayle Hodek, chief executive of Boulder-based Renewable Choice Energy Inc. a broker of renewable energy and carbon offsets nationwide. "But there's a huge corridor from Texas to Colorado that's called the Saudi Arabia of wind power. There's enough wind power potential in two or three of those states to create 100 percent of the electricity needs of the United States."

The company worked with businesses like Whole Foods Market and Vail Resorts to set up the largest wind energy purchases to date, Hodek said.