Washington Gas Energy Services (WGES) and Sterling Planet announced today the continuation of their collaboration to improve air and water quality in the Chesapeake Bay region through WGES CleanSteps® Carbon Offsets. The public-private partnership, which also involves the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF), is now set to enter its third year. The WGES CleanSteps ® Carbon Offsets product has reduced the carbon footprint of WGES residential and small commercial natural gas customers by matching usage with locally sourced, certified carbon offsets. Unlike other carbon offsets, WGES CleanSteps® Carbon Offsets include an investment in future carbon reduction projects. To support these future initiatives, over $400,000 in combined contributions from WGES and Sterling Planet have already been made to a Carbon Reduction Fund managed by CBF. Since the launch of WGES CleanSteps® Carbon Offsets in September 2010, more than 70,000 carbon offsets have been purchased on behalf of WGES customers — the equivalent of eliminating emissions from using nearly 7,900,000 gallons of gasoline. "This program has helped the Chesapeake Bay Foundation promote innovative ways to reduce pollution while also mitigating greenhouse gas emissions in the region," says Beth McGee, senior scientist with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. "For example, as a result of the support from the Carbon Reduction Fund, we are working with farmers to implement a new technology, called the Greenseeker, that helps farmers do a better job of nutrient management, while providing environmental benefits of reduced water and air pollution.” The new 15-month agreement between WGES and Sterling Planet will build on the success of the existing program. Estimated additional carbon offsets during the term of the contract are 45,000 metric tons, and total contributions to the Carbon Reduction Fund are expected to reach $580,000. "Together with our valued partners, Sterling Planet and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, we are making an important investment in cleaning the air and water in our region," said Harry Warren, president, Washington Gas Energy Services. "We will continue to develop new products, such as CleanSteps® Carbon Offsets, that make it easy for our customers to reduce their carbon footprint."