Industries News

Maximizing the impact of renewable energy credyt purchases

by Bruce Mulliken, Green Energy News

When climate scientists tally up greenhouse gas emissions for 2009 they may find a slight decline. Emissions from industry and mobile sources should follow the same track as economic activity, which needless to say, is slow at the moment. (Emissions from homes could stay the same, not drop relative to the economy, unless lots of people cut back on domestic energy use to save cash.)

So a good thing that will come out of the current global recession could be a global reduction in global warming emissions, a bit of a respite in emissions growth if you will.

There could be many good things that will emerge from the current downturn, one of those on the list is that businesses will learn to operate leaner operations. (Another good thing is that companies, and people in general will become more inventive. There’s nothing like survival to spark creative instincts.)

Nevertheless, lean is good for companies in the long run and companies, like individuals, will squeeze every penny until the economy turns upward.

Even in these lean times many companies and individuals will be willing to make efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions in the fight against climate change. Not every company or individual can buy renewable energy off the grid or generate it themselves. Nor can everyone cut energy consumption to point where are emissions substantially reduced. However, everyone with some spare cash can buy renewable energy credits (RECs). And, like every expenditure nowadays, they’ll be looking for the greatest impact for their REC purchases.

(RECs, by the way, are generally used to cut the cost of renewable energy. The lower cost makes renewables such as wind and solar more competitive in the energy marketplace. The more competitive it becomes the more will be built and greenhouse gases and other emissions will drop to some degree. In situations where the utility company will accept the purchase of RECs as a substitute for power delivered, then REC purchases can actually replace power that ordinarily would have been bought. A REC represents the environmental benefits of producing 1,000 kWh (or one megawatt-hour) of electricity from a renewable energy source and the avoidance of the emission of approximately 1,400 pounds of carbon dioxide.)

Back to the story.

One way to make sure the purchase of RECs has the greatest impact in cutting the cost of renewables is to make sure as much as possible of the purchase (the money spent) goes to the construction of a power generation project. The RECs should be used to buy wind turbines or solar panels for instance, and pay as little as possible to middlemen and paper pushers. Ideally 100% of the REC purchase should go to the project.

One REC program that uses 100 percent of the purchase RECs for the construction of new wind and solar energy projects is the newly launched EarthEra Renewable Energy Trust from NextEra Energy Resources, a subsidiary of FPL Group. NextEra, previously known as FPL Energy, is the largest wind and solar energy producer in North America.

The EarthEra Renewable Energy Trust is administered by U.S. Bank and all marketing, administrative and other overhead expenses are paid by NextEra Energy Resources. All renewable energy projects built by the proceeds from the Trust will be owned and managed by NextEra Energy Resources or its subsidiaries.

Already the EarthEra has more than $5 million contributed by businesses including Sony Electronics Inc., Office Depot, HSBC-North America, REI, Norwegian Cruise Lines, GOOD, University of Denver and Loyola Marymount University. Anyone, including individuals, can buy RECs by visiting the EarthEra Web site.

Contributing to EarthEra has an additional feature that adds to its appeal: REC purchasers know which project their RECs are helping to pay for. The current project is the 152 MW Northern Colorado Wind project in Logan County, Colorado. The project, an extension of the Peetz Table Wind Energy Center, is set to go online by the end of 2009.

You’d think EarthEra would offer a bumper sticker: “I’m Helping to Build a Wind Farm”
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