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More credibility to the green market -- Northwest spurs new wind

The Bonneville Environmental Foundation (BEF) has made three major sales of its Green Tag product which will mean installation of 10 MW of wind plant in the Northwest by the end of 2001. The foundation's total renewables sales, a blend of wind and low impact hydro, will increase to 23 MW. BEF is a non profit organisation which earns a living by facilitating green power sales by Bonneville Power Administration and other Northwest utilities.

Previous Green Tag sales have been largely to public utilities in the Northwest (Windpower Monthly, September 1998). In the latest deals, Portland General Electric (PGE), an investor-owned utility, will buy 8 MW of wind, the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will buy 1 MW, and utility Tacoma Power will buy 1 MW. Another sale to a large aluminium manufacturing plant is expected soon, says the BEF's Angus Duncan. "What we're really selling here is an environmental outcome," he says. "We're clearing away the fiction of bringing colour-coded electrons into homes. We can sell Green Tag anyplace -- in areas that are not restructured, to customers that aren't utilities or to retail customers whose utility doesn't offer a green product -- without making the ordinary arrangements of providing a path for the electrons."

PGE already buys the total output of the 25 MW Vansycle Ridge wind farm in eastern Oregon, but the new 8 MW of wind will go to 2500 PGE customers who have signed up to its green power program. The utility is prepared to buy more wind generation as customer demand increases.

The EPA's purchase is expected to require about 1.2 million kWh a year, which is enough to power the EPA's Manchestor Laboratory in Port Orchard, Washington -- an area where the local utility does not offer a green power product. The EPA will pay about $50,000 a year for ten years and the foundation will use that money to offset the premium for new wind. According to Duncan, the EPA could earn a C02 credit for the transaction.

Tacoma Power has rolled out a green pricing program to sell on the power it is buying from BEF. It hopes to capitalise on the green endorsement already granted to the foundation for Green Tag by three high profile environmental organisations -- the Natural Resources Defense Council, Renewables Northwest Project and the Northwest Energy Coalition. The power to fill the Tacoma order will come from a mix of environmentally preferred resources that includes wind, solar, geothermal and low impact hydro. All of these resources must meet Northwest green standards, which are still in draft form, Duncan says. "One of the things that bedevils the green market is a lack of clarity as to whether it really represents green power," he says. "The foundation is bringing design, structure and credibility to the green market."

He adds that the standards are tough and do not consider power from hydroelectric dams that affect salmon or even wind turbines built in environmentally sensitive areas.

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