United States

United States

Four new areas offer more choice -- Green power spreads in US

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Several million more US electricity customers will be offered the option this year to buy green energy. Utilities in North Carolina, Oklahoma, Idaho and Washington have announced plans to join the 85 other utilities in 29 states that already offer some type of program to allow customers to buy green power.

Progress Energy, Dominion North Carolina Power and Duke Power, along with a number of municipalities, are filing green power rates with the North Carolina Public Utilities Commission that are set to take effect by summer. Customers will pay $3-5 for up to a 150 kWh block of green energy, currently undefined. The proceeds will be reinvested in renewable energy projects by a third party.

The 700,000 customers of Oklahoma Gas & Electric may be offered a green power option along with their first rate hike in 16 years, if the state Corporation Commission approves the proposal this summer. While the company says its rate increase will cost customers about $2 a month, it is less clear about the cost of its green program. If customers take to the program, the utility says it will arrange a ten year purchase of wind energy from local projects. It has not said which ones, but petroleum consulting firm Chermac Energy said last year it would build two in Harper County -- the 96 MW Sleeping Bear project in 2002 and the 25.5 MW South Buffalo project by 2004.

In Washington, two utilities began offering green programs early this year. Clark Public Utilities in Vancouver began buying renewable energy for its 155,000 customers through the Bonneville Environmental Foundation (BEF) in January. The agreement calls for BEF to provide the utility with energy from eastern Washington wind and solar projects for three years. Clark Public Utilities says the power will initially cost more, but the price may go down.

Investor-owned utility Avista in eastern Washington and Idaho is now offering its Buck-A-Block program, giving customers the option to buy wind energy in monthly 55 kWh blocks. It costs customers using 1000 kWh each month $18 more to ensure their energy use is covered by wind power. The wind energy comes directly from FPL Energy's 261 MW Stateline project on the Washington and Oregon border. Last year, the state passed legislation requiring utilities to offer a green option.

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