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We Got Green?

<p>Not hardly. And now the FTC would leave consumers in the dark on some environmental claims.</p>

Fortnightly Magazine - October 1 1999

between claimed and actual content of power supply portfolios. (See www.ftc.gov/be/v990012.htm.)

I asked Jacquelyn Ottman, a consultant who has worked extensively with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in reviewing marketing for the EPA's Energy Star program, about how a competitive power industry should get around the problem that its electricity product flows where it wants to, instead of along defined contract paths.

"To me, the idea of constraints in the grid are irrelevant. So it seems like you need an audit by an outside agency to match invoices to the power delivered to the grid," says Ottman.

"But," she adds, "I also think the people who have signed on for green power so far are probably sophisticated enough to understand all of this. It's sort of like that ad program, that every time someone bought a Chevy GEO, a tree was planted."

Ottman also shares some of my skepticism.

"Does the green product offer meaningful benefits beyond appeals to altruism?" she asks. "Remember those early green products of the '70s, such as all-natural laundry powders that didn't clean clothes, and water-saving shower heads that sputtered? They languished on health food store shelves, gathering dust."

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