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A utility's difficulty defining green power

Efforts by a Washington state utility, Clark Public Utilities of Vancouver, to provide geothermal and wind power to 6000 customers taking part in a pilot open access program have yielded 59 takers, says Clark's Mick Shutt. The utility is offering four choices: green power at $0.039/kWh; electricity from Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) at $0.028/kWh; a mix of Clark resources at $0.024/kWh; and a market based option. Delivery costs an additional $0.018/kWh under the program, which began in January and will run for a year. The company told customers the green power would come from a geothermal plant operated by PacifiCorp in Utah and would include wind power from PacifiCorp when its 41 MW Wyoming Wind Energy Project of Mitsubishi turbines comes on-line in Arlington at the end of the year, says Shutt. "We wrestled for quite a long time with a definition for green power. We tried to find something readily accessible for the pilot, instead of building a plant," he adds. However, some customers complained the geothermal power wasn't "green" enough and the Audubon Society "didn't like wind," according to Shutt. Customers were told the renewable energy could make up 25%, 50% or 100% of their power purchase. Seventeen customers chose 100% green. "That's more than picked the BPA," comments Shutt. The largest number of customers chose the market based price, he notes. The utility worked within an existing wholesale power contract with PacifiCorp to come up with the green power option -- geothermal and wind were all that were available. "I think as we go through the pilot, if we decide to expand it, we'll look at what other green options will be available," he says.

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