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Renewable Energy: Toward A Portfolio Standard?

Fortnightly Magazine - August 1998

disclosing that the coal-based product actually had lower emissions, they changed their selection.

 

At least seven states -- California, Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada and Rhode Island -- have adopted legislation requiring disclosure of specific information. According to a recent report by the Center for Clean Air Policy in Washington, D.C., at least another 20 states are studying or designing disclosure requirements. The New England Conference of Public Utility Commissioners designed its model disclosure rule to serve as a starting point for commissions in the region. Eleven western states are doing the same.

 

The rule recommends that the label appear in all written marketing materials, although Massachusetts has exempted newspaper and magazine advertisements because of the expense.

 

The importance of regional uniformity is two-fold, says Moskovitz. "It's good for suppliers -- they don't face multiple requirements in what is essentially a single retail market," he explains. "And it also helps consumers. The more consumers see this standard food label-like thing, the more confidence they have in it."

 

While there are some differences in the disclosure language adopted by various states, Moskovitz says they're likely to all come around to a fairly standard format.

 

"A lot of the actions that states took were early in the process when a lot of the research information wasn't in yet," he says. "For example, California does not disclose emissions. They were very early in the process legislatively and they had a unique set of politics that went along with that. So they disclosed fuel mix and not emissions, whereas most of the other states have both. I expect that California will ultimately have emissions disclosure as well."

 

A new "green"certification used in California offers green power marketers an opportunity to make a more blatant appeal to environmentally friendly consumers. In order to the Green-e logo and label under the Green-e Renewable Electricity Program, a marketer must prove at least 50 percent of the electricity supply for its product is generated from sun, water, wind, biomass or geothermal sources. Any non-renewable part of the product must have lower air emissions than traditional electricity mix.

 

"Almost everyone seeking to market green power in California is trying to meet or has met our standard,"says Marcy Roth of San Francisco's Center for Resource Solutions, which created the certification.

 

Green-e is developing standards for certification of green products in Pennsylvania, Roth says. The Northwest will likely follow.

 

A Sampling of State Renewable Energy Activity

Measures Pending and Approved

ARIZONA. (Commission Decision No. 59943, Dec. 26, 1996) Establishes an RPS by 1999. At least 0.5 percent must come from new photovoltaic or solar thermal sources. The requirement will increase to 1 percent by 2002. CALIFORNIA. AB 1890 (September 1996) establishes an SBC to fund EE, LI, RE and RD&D. RE funding totals about $540M for 1998-2001. RD&D funding is about $250 million covering 1998-2001. SB 90 (October 1997) creates a trust fund to support in-state renewable sources from 1998-2002. CONNECTICUT. HB 5005 (April 1998) establishes an RPS. Some 5.5 percent of the state's