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Green credit trade expands -- APX exchange moves to Illinois

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A second green power exchange is expected to be operating this month in the United States. The privately run Automated Power Exchange Inc (APX), which operates an on-line green power market in California, was to open a new one in Illinois in late March, probably on the 20th. The move is another sign of the demand for clean electricity as various states in America deregulate their electricity markets. It also indicates the power of e-commerce in today's fast moving world of trading electricity as a commodity.

Although the Illinois market will not immediately trade any wind power, it is expected to do so, says Jan Pepper, head of green market development at APX. The Upper Midwest is one of the major growth areas for wind power in the US. Illinois is just east of Iowa, which along with Minnesota has most of the region's installed wind capacity.

A Silicon Valley company which opened its market in California in 1998, APX already operates a power trading exchange in a second mid-western state, Ohio, as well as in New York state. APX is also looking at opening markets in several states in New England.

Wind power is one of several types of renewable energy sold on APX's California green market, a week-ahead market that matches buyers and sellers. There are about 36 participants, nearly all of the sellers of renewables in the state.

The launching of the second green market follows an APX announcement that has revamped its e-commerce services in its existing markets -- and in a way that will help green buyers and sellers. The new APX Market 2000, initially set to open in October 1999, was launched on March 6. Buyers of power are now be able to view the whole range of "buys" and "asks," rather than just the best ones, which is all that was available previously. The new capability will help buyers and sellers of, say, wind power to plan and lay strategies more effectively, says Pepper. The change was made in large part because of feedback from customers.

Opening in London

The Market 2000 will also be available in the Midwest and in New York, probably later this spring, and in London, England, later this year. APX says that e-commerce is especially suitable for a globalised electricity market that operates in different time zones and currencies. APX traded more than 333,000 MWh of green power -- most of it geothermal -- from May to December of 1999. It also expects to start posting its trade volume more frequently -- long the subject of speculation -- on its web site, says Pepper.

Last year, the company announced that green power sellers were getting higher prices than sellers of brown power. The premium rose from $0.0037/kWh in May to $0.005/kWh in September, an increase of exactly one-third (Windpower Monthly, November 1999). The premiums represent how much extra buyers are willing to pay for green energy.

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