Far greener than portrayed
Kevin Jones is dead on in his recent piece “Not as green as we thought” (April 13) about some of the problems in Vermont regarding the sale of the Renewable Energy Credits (REC) from in-state renewable projects to out of state markets.
Because Vermont is the only state in the region without a Renewable Portfolio Standard, and an associated REC market, we both lack the market mechanism for incenting renewable development and we’ve left open the sale of RECs to states that have made the commitment to be leaders. When the RECs are sold for a project (versus being retired in-state), I agree with his point that you can no longer make renewable energy claims.
However, Jones provides a far more cynical portrayal of the current situation. I believe every customer ought to know exactly what they are getting.
First, the vast majority of customers throughout Vermont — homeowners, schools, towns, and businesses — are buying renewable power through third-party leases or power purchase agreements (PPAs) where the RECs are explicitly not sold under the contract.We personally have hundreds of customers where we’ve provided no-cost PPAs to and make clear to them that the environmental attributes to their systems will not be sold.
Second, as customers and developers work hard to make projects financeable in Vermont, many solar customers choose to sell, or have sold, the RECs produced from their systems because it helps the economics of their projects.
This creates good local jobs (Vermont is now number one in the country in solar jobs per capita), more stable energy prices, and it means they can reap the financial benefits of producing their own solar energy.
But it also means, to Jones’ point, they have to be very cautious about the environmental claims they make. RECs being sold mean a customer can no longer can claim to be using “renewable power.”
The writer presents an overly dark picture of what is actually a very bright solar economy in Vermont.This worthy discussion only highlights Vermont’s next challenge: to create an RPS, as every other state in the region has done, that furthers the efficient, cost-effective, and rapid development of renewable energy in-state and which ends the issue of the sale of renewable credits out of state.
David Blittersdorf of Charlotte is president of All Earth Renewables Inc.