This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

April 10, 2002

Green-e Certifies Tradable Renewable Energy Certificates

The Center for Resource Solutions announced in late March that it is now offering Green-e certification of tradable renewable energy credits (TRCs), also known as "green tags." TRCs allow a company to build a renewable energy facility anywhere and sell the power into the local power system at the going rate. The company then sells the environmental attributes of the power through TRCs. Since renewable energy sources are often more expensive than traditional power sources, TRC sales may be an essential extra source of income for the facility owner. People or companies that buy TRCs can correctly claim that they are supporting renewable energy projects and can claim that they are offsetting air emissions that they produce through their purchase of TRCs.

The problems with TRCs are the large potential for abuse: companies that are forced to build a renewable facility to meet local, state, or federal regulations could essentially "double count" that facility by also selling TRCs for it. Or a company could sell more TRCs than they can back up with actual energy sales. The new Green-e certification prohibits such activities, and as such, the certification provides an essential tool for consumers and businesses to determine the validity of any TRCs they may purchase. See the Green-e TRC announcement.

The Timberland Company provides a recent example of such a TRC purchase. Timberland is paying for enough TRCs from a wind farm in South Dakota to offset the carbon emissions caused by the electricity used in all of its U.S. retail stores. To demonstrate how confusing these things can be, a New England non-profit, Clean Air-Cool Planet, will serve as a middleman in the deal: Timberland will make a donation to the non-profit, and the non-profit will buy the TRCs from yet another company, called NativeEnergy. See the NativeEnergy press release.

Green-e has been involved in the green power market since its inception, through certification of green power products sold in competitive power markets. Recently, the town of Westport, Connecticut, chose to buy green power for the town hall and most of the town's recreation buildings. Green Mountain Energy Company also started selling Green-e certified green power in Texas. See the Green-e press releases.

Green Mountain Energy Company's green power product in Texas will be supported, in part, by a new 43-kilowatt solar power array now under construction in Houston. The company is also offering green power through two Oregon utilities, Portland General Electric and Pacific Power. And the company has expanded its territory in Ohio, offering green power to the cities of Alliance, Sandusky, and London, and the village of Lagrange. See the Green Mountain Energy press releases.

Utilities are achieving success with their green power products as well. Puget Sound Energy (PSE) in Washington, Pepco Energy Services in Maryland, and El Paso Electric in Texas have all reported successful green power marketing efforts in recent months, and a new product from Wisconsin Public Service has earned the Green-e certification. See the press releases from El Paso Electric, PSE, Pepco, and Wisconsin Public Service.