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WMATA to buy electricity wholesale

Posted on May 15, 2009

As part of an ongoing effort to save money, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (Metro) plans to buy electricity at wholesale prices.

“Metro would be the first transit agency in the country to take advantage of wholesale pricing,” said General Manager John Catoe. “It would help guard against the skyrocketing electricity prices we saw last year.”

The transit agency’s Board finance committee approved a request on Thursday to lock in below-budget electricity prices in the regional wholesale market, which includes the District of Columbia, Maryland, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. The plan faces final Board approval later this month.

 “We estimate potential savings of up to $9 million a year if we move away from buying electricity needed to power trains, stations and other facilities in a retail market and buy it in the wholesale market,” said Chief Financial Officer Carol Kissal.

Metro currently has price guarantees for a year with retail supplier Constellation NewEnergy. Electricity prices have risen steadily over the last five years. Metro spent $74 million on electricity in fiscal 2008. The budget is more than $106 million this fiscal year, which ends in June, and projected to be more than $110 million for fiscal 2010. The transit agency forecasts using more than 886 million kilowatt-hours of electricity next fiscal year -- enough to power about 79,000 American homes a year.

“We also are exploring buying electricity from renewable energy sources, such as wind power,” Catoe said.

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