Proving Popular, Renewable Energy Yields Clean Air Benefits

SAN FRANCISCO, California, September 21, 2000 (ENS) - In the two newly degregulated state electricity markets operating in 1999, customers who chose renewable energy products greatly expanded the use of wind, geothermal, biomass, solar and small scale hydro power.

A new report estimates the environmental benefit of these choices is equivalent to removing 1,083,737 cars from the road in one year.

The second annual Green-e Verification Report from the non-profit Center for Resource Solutions shows that in California and Pennsylvania combined, in 1999, over 400,000 people were served by Green-e certified electricity.

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This biomass plant in Anderson, California, produces low cost electricity from wood by-products. (Photo by Warren Gretz courtesy National Renewable)
Green-e certifies renewable energy options against a series of stringent environmental and consumer protection standards. This verification report was completed for the non-profit organization by independent auditors.

The environmental benefit of Green-e certified electricity was equivalent to emissions from over 1,200 tons of sulfur dioxide, a chief cause of acid rain, and 1,190 tons of nitrogen oxide, a major contributor to smog, the auditors found.

The report shows that both in California and Pennsylvania where consumers now choose their electricity providers, over half of residential and non-residential customers chose to purchase 100 percent renewable electricity.

Non-residential consumers also increased their green power purchasing. Aggregated Green-e certified product sales data show that 38 percent of green power demand came from large customers - industrial, small and large commercial, and agricultural. This figures nearly doubled from 21 percent in 1998.

Approximately 27,700 non-residential customers switched to Green-e certified power nationwide in 1999.

Companies like Toyota, Birkenstock and Fetzer Vineyards used Green-e certification as a requirement in their green power requests for proposals, as did cities including Chula Vista and Santa Monica, California and federal agencies like the U.S. Postal Service and Environmental Protection Agency in Richmond, California.


Geothermal power plant at The Geysers near Calistoga, California. (Photo by Stewart Lewis courtesy National Renewable Energy Lab)
"I am so pleased that leading businesses and government are doing such a wonderful job of setting an example for what can be done in the battle against global climate change. It is these unanticipated actions by individual consumers that will ultimately make the difference," said Jan Hamrin, executive director of Center for Resource Solutions.

California and Pennsylvania retail electricity marketers selling Green-e certified electricity purchased more renewable energy than they had promised, the study found.

The auditors found that 100 percent of the electricity purchased for customers of Green-e certified products in California was supplied by renewable resources, despite the fact that three products were offered as only 50-75 percent renewable.

Similarly, two of five Green-e certified Pennsylvania products offered as only 50 percent renewable were served by over 95 percent renewable power sources.

Electricity service providers have delivered more green power to the grid than promised. This finding follows the 1998 Green-e verification results which also documented that Green-e certified products had exceeded the program's environmental and consumer protection standards.


Three of the eight wind turbines installed by Green Mountain Energy this spring on a farm in Garrett, Pennsylvania. (Photo courtesy Green Mountain Energy)
Customer demand in these deregulated electricity markets has helped stimulate the construction of new renewable resources.

New renewable activity in 1999 included a two megawatt (MW) wind facility in California built by Green Mountain Energy Company; a 10.4 MW wind farm in Pennsylvania and two solar arrays - one in California and one in Pennsylvania - with 232 kW total energy capacity, also built by Green Mountain.

A 16.5 megawatt wind facility in California was built by Enron Wind.

The Sacramento Municipal Utility District purchased all of the electricity from a new 8.3 MW landfill gas facility for its Greenergy(sm) program.

These new projects represent over 20 MW of new renewables built to supply Green-e certified products in 1999. The carbon dioxide emissions savings from new renewables in 1999 is equivalent to planting 3,800 acres of trees.

New Jersey is now a deregulated state in which renewable energy is offered.

More information on Green-e is available at: