Utilities making green options more attractive


More and more utilities are offering customers "green" alternatives to their energy needs.

Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) has proposed giving its customers an opportunity to use 100 percent renewable energy to the California Public Utilities Commission. If approved, this would provide participating customers with energy from new small- and mid-sized solar projects.

This is part of a revised proposal. The original proposal provided customers with an option to buy renewable energy certificates from new and existing projects, including those outside PG&E's service area.  The new proposal would allow customers to directly support the development of new projects that generate clean energy within PG&E's service area.  

"We are pleased to have worked with a wide variety of organizations to fashion an enhanced option for our customers," said Helen Burt, senior vice president and chief customer officer of PG&E, including The Utility Reform Network (TURN) and the Coalition of California Utility Employees.

Under the new plan, participants will pay the full cost of the new renewable energy supplies built in direct response to their enrollment, in addition to receiving credits for avoided PG&E generation costs, making the program more affordable.

Dominion Virginia Power is also offering green power to offer customers alternatives to support renewable energy production. Since 2009, nearly 16,000 customers have signed up for the Green Power program, supporting more than 480,000 MWh of renewable energy.

Through the program, customers can match their home electricity use with renewable energy either by usage or in fixed monthly amounts. The fixed option starts at $2 and can be increased in $2 increments with a $2 block supporting 154 kWh of green power. The usage option adds 1.3 cents per kilowatt-hour, with a typical household using 1,000 kWh for an additional $13 per month.

The renewable energy is purchased in the form of renewable energy certificates from recently built wind, solar and biomass facilities in Virginia and the surrounding region.

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