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United States

GREEN PRICING APPROVED

Niagara Mohawk Power Corp is developing a voluntary "green" pricing programme allowing customers to pay an extra $6 a month for electricity from renewable energy sources such as wind and solar. The utility says the programme would allow residential customers to replace some of the power they buy generated from coal, oil or natural gas with renewable energy.

New York state regulators have approved a proposal by Niagara Mohawk Power Corp to develop a voluntary "green" pricing programme allowing customers to pay an extra $6 a month for electricity from renewable energy sources such as wind and solar. The utility says the programme would allow residential customers to replace some of the power they buy generated from coal, oil or natural gas with renewable energy.

If one of the first projects chosen is wind, it could be on line by late 1996, says the utility's John Schafer. Green pricing may already start this summer. Niagara Mohawk has installed two Kenetech Model 33M-VS turbines near the town of Denmark, close to the shores of Lake Ontario.

Although the utility's research and development budget was slashed by the New York Public Service Commission on April 19, it is nonetheless still seeking a site for a 6 MW R&D wind project in co-operation with the US Department of Energy and NYSERDA, a state authority.

"I'm hopeful about green pricing in general," says Tom Gray, of the American Wind Energy Association. "The polls generally show that people support renewable energy and are willing to pay more on their electricity bill for green power." Gray notes, however, that he is not familiar with the details of the Niagara Mohawk plan. He also comments that green pricing may make renewables seem overly expensive, though the benefits usually outweigh the disadvantages.

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