Going greener has a multiplier effect in benefitting local schools this year on Mercer Island, according to a press release from electric utility Puget Sound Energy’s Green Power program.
Until the end of 2012, the program will contribute $10 to a local school's Parent-Teacher-Student Association for every MI home or business that signs up for the utility’s renewable-energy option. Green Power is a program that allows Puget Sound Energy customers to purchase locally produced wind, solar, low-impact hydro and biogas power by adding $4 to $12 to their monthly utility bill; all fees go to support independent clean-energy projects in the Western US.
When new members sign up for Green Power, they can designate a school PTSA to receive the enrollment donation. In January Green Power will donate another $500 to the school with the most enrollments by the end of December.
The Green Power contribution to schools is effectively a double-bonus. Green Power has already committed $25,000 for a new solar array at the Mercer Island Community Center – a grant that the community earned this year by increasing Green Power Program participation to 650 homes and businesses through the program’s “Mercer Island Gets Green . . . One Hero at a Time” challenge. If 100 additional customers sign up by Dec. 31, PSE Green Power will boost the grant to $30,000. Every enrollment in this stretch goal counts though, as each will secure another $50 in the grant up to 100 more participants.
As of last week, Mercer Island High School was in the lead with 38 enrollments. West Mercer Elementary is close with 37 Green Power enrollments. The high school’s Green Team, a student club focused on sustainability, has been promoting the challenge.
“It fits right in with what we’re trying to do,” said the team’s advisor, biology teacher Jamie Cooke. “Supporting local green power is important to the Green Team, and this program goes beyond what the school can do all by itself to be more environmentally friendly.”
Mercer Islanders raised $1.4 million for local schools in 2010, and Cooke has a hunch that this concern for the future of children may extend to ecological issues.
“We’ve got a great community here that really supports education,” he said, “and I can see that support teaming up well with environmentalism.”
The Green Power inter-school challenge provides a way to support both of Cooke’s passions.
“Four dollars a month is relatively inexpensive considering all the benefits of offsetting some of your power with local renewable energy," Cooke said.
You can sign up and designate your school on the PSE website.