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Green Electricity: It's in the Eye of the Beholder

Fortnightly Magazine - February 15 1998

Brown stresses, however, that Green-e certifies a product, not a company name. So there's nothing to stop a company from calling itself, for example, Renewable Energy Source Inc., while actually generating or reselling more traditionally generated electricity.

In fact, despite its name, energy service provider number 13 on the California PUC's list, Renew Power LLC, will "try to stress renewable sources," once it begins providing power to customers, according to manager Robert J. Kendrick, but the name won't necessarily stop the company from going "in other directions."

On the other hand, there's no contradiction in the name Cleen 'n Green, program manager Timothy Mayhew says, because the company will purchase clean energy. "No coal, nuclear or natural gas (em basically it's hydropower," he says, although their source is "confidential." They will be using the California Public Utilities Commission definition of green and expect to be certified as such by the Green-e program, he adds.

Janice Frankel, with the FTC's enforcement division, agrees that there's nothing inherently wrong with calling a company Green Energy Source Inc., or something similar. But consumers need to be aware of how else a company is promoting itself. "We have broad consumer protection authority under section five of the FTC Act," she says, and in the past, the FTC has prohibited "inherently deceptive names." F

Lori M. Rodgers is associate editor with Public Utilities Fortnightly.

Federal Standards for Renewable Energy

HR 655 would phase in a portfolio standard over 10 years requiring minimum percentage of generation resources supplied by renewable energy, calculated by supplier: 2 percent in 2001, 3 percent starting in 2005 and 4 percent by 2010.

Hydro resources are not taken into account in calculating total generation. "Waste" includes organic waste and dedicated energy crops.

S 687 would phase in a portfolio standard over 10 years through a system of renewable energy credits (one credit per megawatt sold) administered by FERC, requiring minimum percentage of generation resources, state by state, supplied by renewable energy: 2.5 percent in 2000, rising ratably to 5 percent in 2005, 6 percent in 2006 and 7 percent by 2007.

Hydro resources are not taken into account in calculating total generation. "Waste" includes organic waste, but excludes incinerated municipal solid waste.

S 237 would phase in a portfolio standard over 10 years through a system of tradable renewable energy credits administered by FERC, requiring minimum percentage of generation resources supplied by renewable energy, calculated by supplier: 5 percent in 2003, 9 percent by 2008 and 12 percent by 2013.

Hydro resources earn credits at rate of 0.5 per unit of energy. Credits earned at a rate of 1 and 2 per unit, respectively, for qualifying nonhydro resources constructed (a) prior to the act and (b) after enactment.

"Waste" excludes municipal solid waste but does not include or exclude organic waste.

HR 1960 would phase in a portfolio standard over 12 years, requiring minimum percentage of generation resources supplied by renewable energy, calculated by supplier: 3 percent in 1998, with percentage rising along a sliding scale set by the Secretary of Energy to