California has a plan to track green electricity, but can it be trusted?
All electricity is the same, but the California Energy Commission wants to change that. It plans a system to authenticate the source of electricity to allow consumers to buy power from specific generators. Standard documents called "Certificates of Specific Generation" would certify financial transactions. Presumably, the plan would help document the authenticity of non-generic electricity products, such as green power.
Nevertheless, the plan raises a host of issues, and it has its detractors, judging from comments heard at a workshop conducted Nov. 2 on power source disclosure:
* Authentication. Demand proof of a chain of transactions?
* Trading. Make tags tradeable, without requiring a paper trail?
* Line Losses. Relevant in measuring and tagging specific resources?
* Generic Disclosure. Fair and impartial for retailers who don't sell a fuel-specific product? An impediment to out-of-state power imports?
* Double Counting. Can the CEC prevent this?
* Geographic Scope. Only in California, or the entire Western Interconnection?
* Consumer Awareness. Do they need to know all the details?
The CEC opened the tagging program to comply with Senate Bill 1305, the Electricity Source Disclosure Program, enacted in California in 1997 to ensure that retail electric suppliers furnish consumers with "accurate, reliable and simple-to-understand information" on sources of electric energy. The law required suppliers to disclose fuel source information in a standard format to be developed by the CEC.