Three years ago, Baltimore finished replacing traditional traffic signals with light-emitting diodes, cutting energy use by more than three-fourths.

The newfangled signals don’t look much different. Sometimes the green looks a little blue. But they’re saving the city $1 million a year.

Now city officials are moving to give streetlights the same treatment — swapping conventional bulbs for LEDs — for much bigger savings. Baltimore is also reducing its BGE bill by generating electricity with sewage methane — enough to power 3,000 houses. (The electricity is for the city, but that gives you a sense of the scale.)

And officials are talking about installing small, natural gas-fired generation plants throughout the city to further cut power costs and pollution.

Those are just a few of the ways Maryland can meet its energy and environmental goals without building windmills in the ocean.

Anybody who opposes Gov. Martin O’Malley‘s expensive proposal to develop a wind farm off the Eastern Shore, put aside for further study a few days ago by the General Assembly, has an obligation to come up with effective, less-risky alternatives. Baltimore is demonstrating several, and there are many, many others.

Cutting Maryland’s carbon emissions and powering its future economy will be a matter of a hundred separate changes — in both conservation and new electricity sources.

They aren’t as sexy as a poster project with a governor cutting a ribbon. But they’ll be much less expensive and ultimately much more significant.

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