2013 has been a big year for our program! We have conducted five city challenges and celebrated some of our past community challenge efforts. Here are some highlights:
Green Power Market Report:
Northwest Green Power Programs lead charge to grow green energy sector
A new report by the Renewable Northwest Project states that customer participation in our region's utility green power programs has continued to grow in the past few years, despite the recession.
This is impressive when you consider that voluntary green pricing programs are, by definition, optional. Even when finances are tight, a growing number of customers are voting with their dollars and choosing to grow a clean energy economy. In the past two years alone, green power program sales in the Northwest have increased by 12.5%. Enough energy was purchased last year to power nearly 180,000 homes and prevent 2.8 billion pounds of CO2 emissions.
So, how do utility green pricing programs actually work? It starts with RECs, or Renewable Energy Certificates. RECs represent the environmental attributes associated with 1 MWh of energy generated from a renewable resource. These attributes are separated from the electricity itself, which is indistinguishable from other forms of power that enter the grid. Essentially, when PSE purchases RECs on your behalf we are setting up an exchange. The dairy digester, wind farm, or solar producer agrees to place generic power into the grid, and you get to draw an equal amount of renewable energy out of it. You've purchased the right to swap out their electrons for the ones you consume.
When we talk with potential program participants we are often asked what kind of impact an exchange like this can have on the industry. To begin, renewable energy projects require a significant amount of up-front money to get started—sometimes millions of dollars. RECs provide an additional revenue stream that project developers can build into their business plans. By monetizing the positive environmental benefits of their product, developers are better able to attract financing and keep their costs competitive. This is especially impactful for smaller projects like Qualco Energy, Farm Power, and Skagit Community Solar. All the projects that PSE's Green Power Program supports have been built in the past 15 years and are based in the West, many in Washington, to ensure that your resources are concentrated where they matter most.
The results so far have been promising. According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, solar PV installations are projected to rise 30% this year. Across the US, a solar project is now installed every four minutes on average! The wind industry is also breaking records. For the first time in 2012, wind energy was the top source of all new electricity generation facilities put online in the US. These trends mirror an uptick in voluntary purchase markets which include PSE's Green Power Program. On a national level, voluntary green power sales now represent 1.3% of total US electricity sales, according to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. REC markets have increased at a compound annual growth rate of 25% from 2010 to 2012. Thank you for being part of this wonderful success story!
Solar Sweepstakes Winners
We are ready to announce the 2013 Solar Sweepstakes winner!
Follow us on Facebook for the big reveal in the next few weeks »
Rewards Program Update:
Don't miss out on great deals around the Sound
Last winter we introduced the mobile version of Green Power Rewards and are thrilled to see so many of you are redeeming the coupons. It is good for you and great for the businesses you are supporting. Thank you!
For those of you who have not yet tried it, don't forget the coupons are exclusively from green powered businesses throughout PSE's service territory – so you know when you shop there you are supporting a like-minded enterprise. See the full list of participating businesses here – and watch for updates through the application. If you do not have your code, email us and we will send it to you in time for holiday shopping.
Community Challenge Update:
Stakes rising in "Take Charge" Green Power Challenge
This year, residents and businesses in Anacortes, Bainbridge Island, Kirkland, Snoqualmie and Tumwater are competing to walk away with $40,000 from PSE's Green Power Program to install a solar demonstration project in their town.
Green Power Business Profile:
Lula Ruby helps bring out the beauty of green power
Lula Ruby, an Organic Salon in Snoqualmie, likes to keep things natural, comfortable, and beautiful. The salon delivers on that mission through exceptional customer service, hair artistry, and product selections that are free of harsh chemicals and strong unnatural scents. "Healthy hair is beautiful hair," says owner, Angela Favero. "There is no need to expose client's hair to anything unnatural. In fact, doing so is often quite damaging to hair's natural beauty."
An 18 year veteran of the hair care industry, it wasn't until the birth of her son Kingston that Angela became committed to organic hair care. "It meant simply a healthier, alternative approach." After moving to the Snoqualmie Valley she realized there was an opportunity to run a sustainable, organic salon that would provide clients and staff with a healthier, "greener" option.
Favero's business is looking to keep things beautiful in the environment too. Since its opening in 2012, Lula Ruby has been a 100% green powered business. Angela takes pride in her salon's strong commitment to sustainable business practices. Supporting alternative clean energy sources through the Green Power Program is "an easy way to ensure I'm using my money to reinforce my personal beliefs and business mission – neither of which compromise on fashion or style."
Lula Ruby an Organic Salon also offers a discount through Green Power Rewards.
Solar Demonstration Project Profile:
Mercer Island: National award winner and home to impressive solar project
Mercer Island "Gets Green" is more than a moniker for the 2012 community challenge; it is also a testament to their dedication and support for renewable energy in our region. Last year the community teamed with PSE's Green Power program to manage a highly successful challenge, resulting in the island nearly doubling the campaign goal. As a result, the community was awarded a $35,000 grant to install a solar array at the Community and Events Center.
Armed with the award, the Mercer Island Solar Guild stepped in to raise funds from residents and increase the size of the demonstration project. The resulting 4.4 KW Washington-made system is impressive and eye-catching.
"We were delighted that our community came together to meet PSE's Green Power challenge, but we wanted to be able to scale-up the size of our array – build one that would be really visible and make a statement" says Kim Kendall, a member of the Solar Guild. "It is the perfect addition to the Community Center's educational opportunities," says island resident Susan Mattison of Silicon Energy, the project's manufacturer. "We had a goal to create something complementary to the grounds, where students and adults would want to walk up, touch it, and understand the potential."
Mercer Island's continued commitment to renewable energy through the Green Power Program also put them in the national spotlight. The island community was awarded EPA Green Power Community of the Year at the annual Renewable Energy Markets Conference in September. PSE congratulates Mercer Island on their solar array and status as a national leader in the field of green power.
Green Power by the Numbers (as of Oct. 31, 2013)
|Top Five Cities by Residential Participation
||Top Five Cities by Commercial Participation|
|Olympia – 5,121
||Kirkland - 2,301
||Bellingham - 139
||Bainbridge Island - 25|
|Bellingham - 4,585
||Redmond - 1,405
||Olympia - 81
||Langley - 21|
|Bellevue - 2,459
||Vashon - 26
Green Power Participation
Total kilowatt hours (kWh) of green power purchased
January to December 2012:
307,818,625 – up 2.5 percent from the same period in 2012. Thank you!
PSE's Green Power Program is Green-e Energy Certified
Green-e Energy certifies that PSE's Green Power Program meets the minimum environmental and consumer protection standards established by the non-profit Center for Resource Solutions. For more information on Green-e Energy certification requirements, call 1-888-63-GREEN or log on to green-e.org.