SOME PEOPLE WANT TO KNOW WHAT "GREEN POWER" means (em and, by extension, "environmentally friendly." Does that mean low emissions, including nuclear energy? Is renewable energy automatically green? Should the simple fact of compliance with all standards imposed by the Environmental Protection Agency afford the right to advertise power generation as green?
Consumers, agencies and state and federal officials want truth in advertising. Proponents of alternative generation claim consumers are willing to pay more for cleaner, greener energy. Residential customers of Detroit Edison, for instance, pay more than $6.50 additional per month to support solar energy. In Colorado, the Governor's Office of Energy Conservation is using special funds to help offset the additional cost it takes to power the governors' home with wind. Only clear industry guidelines can ensure that everyone is actually getting what they're paying for.
Green power certification is proceeding on several different fronts. Commissions and legislatures are mandating resource disclosure of generation sources. Legislation at both the state and federal level are investigating the use of renewable portfolio standards. The Federal Trade Commission is considering establishing voluntary guidelines for electricity advertising like those already established for other retail products in the FTC's 1992 "Guides for the Use of Environmental Marketing Claims" (16 C.F.R. 260).