Panera Bread of Maryland, franchised by Lemek, LLC, announced that the United States Environmental Protection Agency has recognized the company as a leader in voluntary renewable energy purchasing for its commitment to buy 100 percent wind power from Washington Gas Energy Services, Inc. for its 35 Bakery-Cafes. Panera Bread of Maryland has agreed to the purchase of more than 11 million kilowatt hours of 100 percent CleanSteps WindPower from WGES.

"Supporting clean power makes good business sense and is good for the communities we serve," said Brian Lemek, owner of Lemek, LLC, the franchisee for Panera Bread in Maryland.  "We are proud of our leadership role in purchasing green power and remain committed to doing our part to support renewable energy."

According to the EPA, Panera's green power commitment is ranked 19th on the list of Top 20 Retail Green Power Purchasers.  The EPA publishes quarterly rankings of its Green Power Partners on its website:

"The EPA is pleased to welcome Panera Bread of Maryland to the Green Power Partnership," said Blaine Collison, Director of the Green Power Partnership.  "Panera Bread is setting a powerful example for other organizations in the region and in the retail industry."

Buying more than 11 million kilowatt hours of 100 percent CleanSteps WindPower from WGES for 35 stores is equivalent to burning 773,000 fewer gallons of gasoline, or taking 1,352 cars off the road for one year.

"Panera Bread of Maryland's green power purchase from WGES exceeds the EPA's voluntary Green Power Partnership requirements," said Harry Warren, President of WGES.  "This is evidence of true environmental stewardship on their part. We commend Brian Lemek and Panera Bread of Maryland for their leadership and hope other franchisees will follow their example."