SILVER SPRING, MD — Several businesses in Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia announced on November 23 that they have formally launched the Clean Energy Partnership (CEP), a regional coalition working to promote solutions to global warming and air pollution, according to The group is organizing businesses to support clean energy, invest in energy efficiency, and advocate for positive environmental legislation at the state and local level. "The founding businesses of the Clean Energy Partnership understand that being good for the environment and running a good business go hand in hand," said CEP founder and director Gary Skulnik. "We´re a new voice in the business world, a voice that calls for long-term practical environmental solutions in order to protect our quality of life and ensure a safe, clean future for future generations. With new studies showing air pollution cutting short lives in our region, it´s more important than ever to support sustainable solutions." The CEP set a goal of offsetting at least 10,000 megawatt-hours of electricity through clean energy purchases and another 2,500 megawatt-hours through energy efficiency by July, 2006. That is the equivalent of taking about 1,200 cars off the road, or 17 million miles not being driven, according to the group´s estimates. Increasing the use of clean energy is good for business. Clean energy can help reduce the cost of some fossil fuels. For example, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), if clean energy represented 10 percent of our national energy mix, natural gas prices would drop 4.6 percent. Because clean energy prices are stable for many years, increasing the amount of clean energy a business uses helps that business reduce its exposure to volatile electricity price fluctuations. "Montgomery County is setting the example for other counties and for businesses to follow by its strong leadership in buying clean energy and leading the charge against global warming and air pollution," said Skulnik. "The road to a cleaner, safer future in Maryland starts right here in Montgomery County. If we´re going to solve our biggest environmental challenges, we´re going to need the active support of the businesses that are forming the Clean Energy Partnership," Skulnik added.