Progress on Retaining the Value of the Voluntary Market in Implementation of California's AB 32
California's 2006 Global Warming Solutions Act (AB 32) commits the state to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 through a variety of strategies, including direct regulation and a multi-sector cap-and-trade program. A coalition of clean energy NGOs, including CRS and clean energy businesses succeeded in convincing regulators to make changes from the draft Scoping Plan, which was silent on the role of the voluntary market, to the final version that was approved by the Caifornia Air Resource Board. In the end, the Scoping Plan, which is the roadmap for implementing AB 32, recognizes the potential for voluntary purchases of renewable energy to produce global warming pollution emission reductions beyond those produced by a cap and trade program or other mandates.
One mechanism for ensuring voluntary renewables achieve additional reductions, adopted in the northeast's Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, is know as an "off the top" accounting rule. Under such an approach, allowances (tradable permits to emit pollution) would be retired for voluntary renewable purchases. As a result, the ability to claim additional greenhouse gas reductions due to voluntary action would be retained. Specifically, the Scoping Plan recognizes that such an approach would "...[e]nsure that voluntary actions, such as voluntary renewable power purchases by individuals, businesses, and others, serve to reduce [GHG] emissions under the cap."
Though the specific details and implementation strategies will be worked out over the next two years, we are hopeful that the ability of consumers in California to reduce their contribution to climate change is preserved. Federal studies have shown that to date voluntary purchases of renewable energy have done more to spur new development of renewable projects than mandates. CRS is actively engaged in the AB 32 implementation process, and other policy forums, to ensure that the voluntary market remains a viable option for those looking to make an environmental difference and a valuable income stream for clean energy developers. The momentum is with us.
Businesses Purchase Record Amount of Renewable Energy in 2008
Last year was a blowout year for voluntary renewable energy purchases by U.S.-based businesses, with renewable energy certificate (REC) sales (which account for the majority of industry sales) up 55% over the previous year, according to a National Renewable Energy Laboratory report. Green-e Marketplace, which verifies sales of Green-e Energy Certified renewable energy and licenses the Green-e logo for companies that purchase a qualifying amount of energy (usually 100%), saw incredible growth, from 114,000 MWh in 2006 to nearly 2.8 million MWh in 2008, with 12 new companies joining the program in 2008. As more organizations understand the important role renewable energy can play in reducing their contribution to climate change—energy use is estimated to be responsible for up to 40 percent of greenhouse gas emissions nationwide—we expect purchases to continue rising, in spite of the widespread economic downturn. Lead Staff: Jennifer Giles
Green-e Marketplace Certification Helps Give Neenah a Presidential Nod
When President-Elect Obama's team went looking for a paper supplier to supply the stock for the coveted invitations to inaugural events, they limited their search to paper suppliers with the right green credentials. Neenah Paper's Classic Crest rose to the top of the list. It's FSC Certified, 100% post-consumer fiber, and created using 100% Green-e Energy Certified renewable energy. We congratulate them on such a high-profile example that recycled paper is keepsake worthy.
Colorado Utility Settlement a Big Win for Green Power Consumers
While utilities across the country offer green pricing programs to about half of U.S. electricity customers, nearly all of them struggle with low participation rates, on average around 2%. Which is why many of them would be pleased to have the problem Colorado's Xcel Energy ran into from 2007–2008, where consumer demand outstripped available supply from the two (relatively small) wind facilities approved to feed its Windsource program by 225 GWh. The program was stalled at 47,000 customers because of the lack of approved supply, and a growing waitlist put pressure on the utility to add resources. So program administrators purchased national RECs and sourced from other Xcel wind farms that were producing more renewable energy than the state's renewable portfolio standard required. This quick fix was questioned by state regulators, and so the program proposed a settlement to the Colorado Public Utilities Commission that includes a credit to Windsource customers. It also recommends allowing the company to use its entire portfolio of Green-e–approved renewables in its green-pricing program, ensuring enough supply as the program continues to grow. If anyone had any doubts that consumer demand is driving the market for renewables, just look to the West. Lead Staff: Alex Pennock
There's a New ESQ in Town
Congratulations to our new Green-e Energy analyst Robin Quarrier, who came to us fresh from law school and taking the California Bar Exam. When she found out she had passed, we located a Notary in the building and crammed in a small conference room so we could all be present when she crossed over to the legal side. Congrats Robin, to whose title we can now add, "and Counsel."
This month marks the one-year anniversary of Green-e Climate. 2008 was a tremendous success, with 8 companies offering 12 Green-e Climate Certified carbon offset products after the close of our first year. We look forward to an even more successful 2009, continuing to improve and expand our program.
Green-e Climate staff has formally approved the first nine facilities that are eligible to be used as sources of supply for Green-e Climate participants using the Protocol for Renewable Energy as an Endorsed Program. A second round of review of candidate facilities is currently being undertaken, so keep a look out for additional facilities becoming approved in the weeks ahead. [Learn more about Green-e Climate]
New regional Green-e Energy rules are in effect for voluntary renewable energy sales under the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a greenhouse gas cap-and-trade program for the electric sector in 10 northeast and mid-Atlantic states that went into effect on January 1, 2009. RGGI allows for the retirement of emissions allowances on behalf of voluntary renewable energy sales, and Green-e Energy has released a number of new rules to help ensure that voluntary sales in RGGI states retain their emissions value. For more information on RGGI as it relates to Green-e Energy, please see the new appendix to the Green-e Energy National Standard.
Green-e Energy continues its tremendous growth, with over 250 sellers of RECs and renewable electricity offering a Green-e Energy Certified product at the end of 2008, an increase of more than 75 since 2007. If the past is any indication, sales of certified renewable energy should in 2008 be record-breaking once again; we will have an estimate in time for the next NewSolutions as unaudited numbers roll in throughout February. Download the 2007 Green-e Verification Report now. [Learn more about Green-e Energy]
Green-e Marketplace Featured Company: Neenah Paper. Operating out of Alpharetta, GA, with a distribution center in Neenah, WI, Neenah offers four Green-e Certified paper products: CLASSIC CREST, STARWHITE, ENVIRONMENT, EAMES. This year the CLASSIC CREST Classic Natural White paper was included in the history of the nation’s highest office. CLASSIC CREST was the environmentally preferred choice for the inauguration invitations for President Barack Obama with over 1 million inaugural invitations engraved and printed. This demonstrates Neenah’s leadership in environmental stewardship and commitment to the voluntary renewable energy market.
Neenah joined the Green-e Marketplace program in 2006. In 2008, Neenah committed to replacing 28% of its electricity usage with 46,122 MWh of Green-e Certified renewable energy purchased from WE Energies. One hundred percent of the electricity used to manufacture the CLASSIC CREST, STARWHITE, ENVIRONMENT, and EARMES papers are offset with Green-e Certified renewable energy. You can identify Neenah’s Green-e Certified products by looking for the Green-e logo displayed on its website and paper product swatchbooks.
In addition to purchasing Green-e Certified renewable energy Neenah has explored other innovative ways to minimize its environmental footprint through responsible business and manufacturing policies and practices. Neenah Paper provides FSC, and Carbon Neutral Certified products as well as Chlorine-Free and 100% post consumer products, and a U.S. EPA Green Power Partner. [Read more about Neenah Paper's Environmental Commitment] [Learn more about Green-e Marketplace]
Welcome New Staff
Chris Busch/Policy Director
Chris Busch, Ph.D., joined CRS in January as Director of Policy. He comes to CRS from the Union of Concerned Scientists, where he was a Climate Economist in their Climate Program. From this post he was deeply involved in implementation of the California Global Warming Solutions Act (Assembly Bill 32) and development of the Western Climate Initiative. In 2006, Chris co-authored the report Managing Greenhouse Gas Emissions in California while he was with UC Berkeley's California Climate Change Center. Prior to this, he served as Senior Research Associate in Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s International Energy Studies Group and worked in the Lab's Appliance and Lighting Standards Group. Chris holds two graduate degrees from the University of California, Berkeley: a Ph.D. in environmental economics from the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics and a master's degree in public policy from the Goldman School of Public Policy.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has long been a leader in promoting markets for renewable energy and supporting the work of CRS via grants and program sponsorships. Since 2001, EPA has provided over $1.2 million to advance Green-e certification, renewable energy market program development, and the establishment of environmental tracking systems.
CRS and the EPA also partner with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory to sponsor the annual National Renewable Energy Marketer’s Conference, which provides a forum for EPA’s annual awards to recognize national leaders in Green Power purchasing. EPA and CRS staff also collaborate on national and international committees devoted to resolving energy market issues and advancing renewable power technologies.
The mission of the Environmental Protection Agency is to protect human health and the environment. Since 1970, EPA has been working for a cleaner, healthier environment for the American people. CRS looks forward to continuing our alliance with the EPA in support of the Obama Administration’s commitments to renewable energy and responding to climate change. [Learn more about the U.S. EPA]
Welcome New Green-e Energy Participants
Welcome New Green-e Climate Participants
Welcome New Green-e Marketplace Participants
- Wartsila Flexible Power Symposium February 19-20, 2009. Breckenridge, Colorado. Arthur O'Donnell will speak on "The Changing Climate of New Generation."
- RETECH 2009 February 25-27, 2009. Las Vegas, NV. Arthur O'Donnell will speak on the Green Power Markets panel, and Green-e Energy and Green-e Climate staffs will exhibit.
- Clean Tech Innovation & Growth 2009, March 3, 2009. San Jose, CA. Jane Valentino will speak on "The Impacts of Cap and Trade Policy on the Voluntary Renewable Energy Market."
- Renewable Energy World Conference & Expo North America, Jane Valentino will speak on "The Interaction Between Renewable Energy and Carbon Offsets" on the Renewable Energy & Carbon Offsets: Market Opportunities, Finance & Project Experience panel.
- Wall Street Green Trading Summit, April 2, 2009. Times Center, New York City. Arthur O'Donnell will moderate a panel on "What's Hot in RECs Trading".
Carbon TradeEx America, April 7-8, 2009. Walter E. Washington Convention Center, Washington, D.C. Green-e Climate staff will exhibit.