Posts Tagged "RECs"

FTC Won’t Investigate GMP

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In the past few years Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) have become a heated topic in Vermont. So much so, that it peaked the interest of Vermont Law School (VLS) and elicited a letter from the Vermont Attorney General. If you have been following the story about the sale of RECs within Green Mountain Power (GMP) territory, this update will be of interest to you. According to a February 10th article in Times Argus, The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) decided not to investigate GMPs marketing of RECs, but said that communication to the public should remain clear. [A GMP Press Release from September 19th 2014 is available here] Kevin Jones, a VLS professor was not happy with these results. Last year VLS challenged GMP handling of their RECs, and specifically aimed this criticism towards Vermont’s SPEED law saying that, “From an environmental and electric rate (perspective), the SPEED program has been a failure”. Kristen Carlson, a GMP representative, addressed this issue by bringing to light that the sale of RECs allows for clean energy to be bought at a lower price. Thus boosting the sale of clean energy and allowing Vermont to become a leader in clean energy production. Rates are in fact lowered through the out-of-state sale of RECs. In turn the environment has greater protection through financial support, not greater pollution. [More about GMP on RECs can be found here] As the issue became more public, it morphed into a criticism of the definition of “credit”. While companies that sell energy from renewable sources such as wind, solar, and hydro are creating renewable energy, they are selling the “credits”. Thus, selling the right to call them renewable. This is no way negates the fact that these energy sources are in fact creating energy from a source that has renewable attributes, only that the jargon used, must reflect the credit exchange. In essence, this is what the issue has boiled down to. Meanwhile, those of us installing solar and wind generators in Vermont are happy to sell RECs out of state, to insure that Vermont resident’s get lower clean energy rates and that our environment is protected for future generations. Maybe we use “clean energy” instead of “renewable energy”, but the effects are the same. On Thursday a letter was sent from the FTC to a GMP lawyer saying, “Although no findings have been made that these claims [made by VLS] violate the law, we urge GMP in the future to prevent any confusion by clearly communicating the implications of its REC sales for Vermont customers and REC purchasers.” To this end, we attempt to clarify the issues here and educate our Vermont Community Solar participants on the function of RECs. Read the entire article...

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GMP Press Release on the sale of RECs

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Contact: Kristin Carlson, Green Mountain Power, (802) 229-8200 For Immediate Release: September 19, 2014   Coalition of Business, Energy And State Leaders Supports Clean Energy Future Group criticizes FTC filing: would raise Vermonters’ costs and hurt renewable growth Colchester, Vt – A group of Vermont business, energy, and state leaders joined Green Mountain Power today in criticizing Vermont Law School’s Environmental Law Clinic for filing a Federal Trade Commission complaint that targets Vermont’s renewable energy laws. The filing against GMP’s sale of Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) would lead to higher electric rates and discourage renewables in Vermont. State laws aimed at encouraging renewable generation, like the SPEED law, have helped Vermont create the highest number of solar jobs per capita in the country. Utilities like GMP, as well as solar and wind developers, utilize RECs to help expand renewable generation and keep rates low for their customers. “In the past five years, the amount of renewable generation developed in Vermont has gone from about 10 MW to over 150 MW – that’s a 15 fold increase,” said GMP President and CEO Mary Powell.  GMP was a leader in accelerating the adoption of solar generation by launching an incentive in 2008. “We are proud of our record and the fact that we have done all of this while lowering rates for customers this year, and helping Vermont become a national leader in clean energy. We will continue to tell Vermonters the true story about our energy portfolio and the importance of selling RECs to encourage more local renewable generation and keep costs low. GMP is proud to stand with clean energy advocates, state officials, and renewable developers in support of our clean energy laws.” The sale of RECs produced about $30 million of value this year alone, dollars that went directly into the pockets of GMP customers through lower rates. “The very successful rapid development and growth of renewable energy generation in Vermont today would simply not have happened without the creation of Vermont’s SPEED program by the Vermont Legislature in 2005,” said Rep. Tony Klein Chair, House Natural Resources and Energy Committee. “Our Vermont utilities are doing exactly what the Vermont Legislature has required them to do. And as a result, it has created jobs, tax revenue and clean energy without raising our utility rates. We need to continue to move forward!” “Our company is very grateful for the work that GMP has done to keep our electric rates down at a time when costs are rising elsewhere. We depend on affordable energy to power Sugarbush each winter. I hope that the people responsible for this will cease their unnecessary and counterproductive filing so that we can focus on the real issues we face as a state,” said Sugarbush Owner Win Smith. “Selling renewable energy credits has been an unqualified success in Vermont,” said Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger.  Burlington Electric Department (BED) recently set a new utility benchmark by achieving its goal of having 100% of its power sourced from renewable generation. “The credits have allowed us to meet dual goals: aggressively supporting more wind and solar generation right here in Vermont while keeping rates low and stable for our customers. If REC sales ended today, rates would spike and construction of renewables would slow. That’s a bad bargain for BED’s customers and our community.” “Vermont’s SPEED energy policy has been incredibly effective in promoting the development of renewable generation in our state, building projects that will last for decades,” said Gabrielle Stebbins, Executive Director of Renewable Energy Vermont.  “The economic development and job creation benefits have put a spotlight on...

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GMP on RECs

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Some of you may know a form of emission capping called carbon credits, or offsets. It is the idea that factories which emit greenhouse gasses must offset their emissions through sequestration of greenhouse gasses elsewhere. “Renewable Energy Credits” (RECs) act as a parallel idea that attempts to curb climate change from a production angle. one REC represents one MWh of clean energy produced. In this way RECs act as a production certificate of clean energy. In Vermont, RECs have come up against some criticism. There has been a circling idea that RECs are allowing factories to buy more pollution privileges. Vermont Law school recently filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission asking for an investigation into the the REC market. In an article on FierceEngery, a website that follows trending markets, VLS claims this investigation is based upon the fear of rising electrical prices due to Vermont’s Sustainably Priced Energy Enterprise Development (SPEED) law (Locally this concern was discussed briefly in the Brattleboro Reformer Opinion article on September 19th, “Our Opinion: Furthering the Cause”). Green Mountain Power (GMP) disagrees with the VLS complaints, and has voiced its opposition in saying the sale of RECs has not only supported the growth of clean energy in Vermont, it has also allowed them to keep electric rates reasonably low, supporting the wider economy. Vermont’s SPEED law promotes the production of renewable energy in Vermont by setting statewide goals for utilities. In the past year alone, SPEED has created a huge clean energy workforce in Vermont. In the FierceEnergy article, Mary Powell, President and CEO of GMP, is quoted in saying, “In the past five years, the amount of renewable generation developed in Vermont has gone from about 10 MW to over 150 MW — that’s a 15 fold increase,”. Thats a lot of power. Powell goes on to say that, “We are proud of our record and the fact that we have done all of this while lowering rates for customers this year, and helping Vermont become a national leader in clean energy. We will continue to tell Vermonters the true story about our energy portfolio and the importance of selling RECs to encourage more local renewable generation and keep costs low.” This comes as Burlington and The Burlington Electric Company just made the claim that it now produces 100% of its power from clean energy such as hydro, wind, solar and net metered solar projects, like Vermont Community Solar.  Clearly SPEED is having an effect, and the sales of RECs are fueling the small boom in job creation. This in tandem with growing clean energy production has made Vermont a clear leader in the clean energy industry. Market driven policy, including the sale of RECs, has helped push clean energy into high production. As The People’s Climate March and the UN Climate Summit tackle the issues of global climate change, the push of the market has made action a reality in Vermont. Read the full article “Green Mountain Power bite back after FTC...

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blindingly dumb

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St. Albans Messenger editorial September 19, 2014 FTC complaint blindingly dumb   It’s the innovation and foresight of the state’s energy sector – writ large – that has prompted its backers, including the governor, to push Vermont as the energy state, the example for others to follow. We are ideally suited geographically and politically. The economic development upside would be considerable, something that should have merit in a state that struggles to find strength elsewhere. And the concomitant environmental bonafides are such that others would pay heed. So it’s baffling to read that a key part of what is trying to be accomplished – our push toward renewables – is being termed “deceptive.” The charge, being filed with the Federal Trade Commission, alleges that Green Mountain Power, the state’s largest utility, is marketing itself as green when it’s closer to dirty brown. The petition has been filed by Kevin Jones, a Vermont Law School professor, Bruce Post, a former congressional staffer, Rep. Curt McCormack and Charles Johnson, Vermont’s state naturalist. The complaint is this: Under Vermont law, GMP [and any other utility] is allowed to sell the value of its renewable energy as credits. GMP has done this to the tune of roughly $22 million. The utility is then able to use the money to reduce its rates, and the buyer is able to use the credits to meet its own renewable standards. The effect in Vermont is two-fold: the renewable projects are built and Vermont ratepayers pay about five percent less for their electricity. It’s a win-win. That’s how the law was written. It was as much an economic development piece as it was about producing renewable energy. But the complainers don’t look at it that way. They think the utility is trying to mislead Vermonters into thinking they are producing more renewable energy for Vermonters when they are not. That’s just stupid. The utility is crystal clear about the energy it produces and the energy it sells as credits. But let’s consider the argument against selling the credits. If Vermont were not able to sell the credits, then the purchasers, the argument goes, would be forced to build the renewable projects themselves. That would yield more renewable energy projects and the world would be a better place. That’s absurd from the outset. Vermont’s projects aren’t large enough to make a difference elsewhere. But if we didn’t have the law, and had not been able to sell the credits, then there is every likelihood the projects would not have been built. In the scheme of things, we now have completed projects and the experience to take on others. We’re ahead of the pack. That’s a good thing. And are the petitioners really so daft as to think Vermonters would be pleased having to pay five percent more for their electric bill? We get the fact that several of the petitioners have a blindingly ideological opposition to wind power, and that they intend to push any possibility that would raise the price of future projects. We don’t understand why the Vermont Law School would add its imprimatur to an effort that is easily rebutted and one that works against the state’s best interests. We don’t understand why the school would choose to make itself look like a 1970s environmental redux. At no point has GMP tried to market itself as anything other than what the law stipulates. The petitioners are the ones trying to create confusion where none exists. GMP- and anyone else participating in selling the credits – has acted in precisely the way the Legislature ordered and...

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