Congregants switch to wind

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Nancy Wallace researched alternate power companies so her fellow congregants at Shirat HaNefesh could reduce their carbon use. Photo by Samantha Cooper

Members of the Shirat HaNefesh congregation in Chevy Chase are working together to cut their carbon footprint by switching to wind-powered electricity.

About half of the 100-family nondenominational congregation has made the switch since the effort was launched a year ago.
Member Nancy Wallace spearheaded the effort, called the Ruach/Wind campaign. The congregation does not meet in its own facilities, so when they were looking for a way to reduce carbon emissions.“We looked to where we could make a change and that was with our members,” she said.


Wallace researched different companies in the area and created a step-by-step guide so members could make the switch easily. Her guide recommends Baltimore energy company Constellation as “the least expensive and most
reliable” option.

“The complexity of the electric supply industry was too big a barrier for most people, so we gave them a simple well researched option,” she said, adding that her guide is so specific that congregants can make the switch in less than
half-an hour.

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Andrea Weidman was the first congregant to switch to Constellation. “I was the test subject to see if it could be done easily and to see if we could write a script for congregants,” she said. “I think these things could be kind of daunting. Nancy set out to prove that these things could be done by anyone.”

For most, there isn’t a significant difference in the cost between traditional power companies and wind-powered electricity, Wallace said.


Except for congregant Lin Nemiroff.

“I was looking to switch anyway because my electric bills were absurdly high. We had done all sorts of things to make our house more energy efficient,” she said.

Then Wallace came to her and gave her the instructions to make a switch.

Since then her electricity costs have been cut nearly in half.

“My bills have been significantly lower. So clearly switching to wind power doesn’t have to be a costly thing to do,” she said.

Wallace was able to change her provider in around 15 minutes.

Most of the congregants who have switched to wind power did so because they wanted to help the environment, Wallace said. But they hadn’t done so before because they were intimidated by the process.

“I heard from quite a few people who said, ‘If I’d known it was this easy I would have done it years ago,’” Wallace said.

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