The scheme is being organised by distribution utility PNEM and overseen by the Netherlands branch of the World Wildlife Fund. WWF's involvement is not just to make sure that every green kilowatt hour bought has also been produced. "An accountant could do that," says Sible Schone of the WWF. "We check that the money is used to invest in sustainable energy sources. What it boils down to for us, is that an extra wind turbine will be built for every 350 households. That is in line with our policy to stimulate sustainable energy."
Market research has led PNEM to believe that its green pricing scheme will be successful. The utility's Kees Meijer says a national survey has shown that 10% of Dutch households are willing to pay more for green electricity and another 49% are prepared to think about it. Even if none of the thinkers decides to support the scheme, it still leaves more than half a million households willing to do so. Meijer agrees, though, that when principles hit the purse, there could be problems. "That's why we're starting experimentally in Tilburg," he says. "Depending on how many customers we get, we will extend the offer to all the households in our area." Other distribution utilities are also working on similar green pricing proposals.
If PNEM's market survey is accurate it should mean that in the utility's own area, the southern province of Noord-Brabant, 100,000 families will pay extra for green electricity. The utility is hoping, though, that they will not all want to sign up tomorrow. At the moment PNEM has 16 MW of wind power at its disposal, barely enough for 5000 households. According to already existing plans, this installed capacity will be increased to 60 MW, enough for 35,000 households. Income from the scheme will also be used to stimulate installation of more wind capacity, either by PNEM or by the private sector. Investment will also be made in hydro and biomass.
If a much talked about energy tax is introduced in the Netherlands next year, in line with the recommendations of the European Union, the gap between green and dirty power from PNEM will be reduced to just six cents -- making it even more likely that the market research is correct in its suppositions.