by Troy Helming
Contributed by www.sustainablemarketing.com
A green tag is formally known as a tradable renewable certificate. Other names are Renewable Energy Credit, Renewable Energy Certificate (REC or 'rek' for short), and in Europe they are often called Renewable Obligation Certificates.
History and Brief DescriptionGreen Tags were originally developed in the early 1990s in California by the owners of wind energy facilities and the utility companies they were selling to in order to satisfy the need to somehow track the renewable or 'green' attributes of the power being produced by these renewable energy facilities. You see, there was a premium value for clean & renewable 'green' power over conventional fossil-fuel produced 'dirty' power. And because the electric grid cannot distinguish between a green electron - if you will - coming from a wind farm, and a 'brown' electron from a coal or gas plant, a tracking mechanism was needed to track - on paper - the number of green electrons going into the grid. Furthermore, due to the physics of the grid, there is no way to send 'green' electrons from a wind farm to any particular home or business. They just get mixed up with all the other electrons in the huge power pool and go along the path of least resistance to the nearest light bulb, electric motor, or other electricity consuming device. Because the electric grid in the U.S. is the largest machine ever built in the world, all of us in North America share the same grid and our power comes from whatever generation source is closest and whichever power line has the capacity to deliver the electrons to our neighborhood. Therefore, the utility industry developed Green Tags as a way to 'unbundle' the green attributes of the power to be able to sell those green attributes separately.
Benefits and CostsSo, a person or a company that buys a green tag is actually receiving four distinct and separate benefits from the Green Tag service they are purchasing:
- An assurance that 'green' electrons were injected in the
national grid somewhere, so you can feel good about reducing dependence on
foreign and fossil fuels,
- A direct, measurable, actual reduction in dangerous pollution
since those electrons did not have to be produced by fossil fuel combustion,
- The ability to legitimately claim that your own electricity
is no longer creating any pollution (it's clean, renewable wind power), assuming
you buy enough Green Tags to offset the average number of kilowatt hours that
you consume every month, and
- The ability to legitimately claim that your home or business is now powered by the wind (again assuming you buy enough Green Tags to offset your average consumption of kilowatt hours).
If you are a consumer living in a home or apartment, regardless of whether you own or rent, and you want to be able to say that your residence is powered 100% by clean, renewable, American-made wind power, you really only have 2 choices:
- Install a windmill in your back yard on a 50 foot pole. It
will cost $35,000, the wind is probably not strong enough or consistent enough,
and your neighbors and local zoning board are probably not going to be too
happy about a 50 foot tall wind turbine in your back yard. That's not a good
option. The only other choice you have today is…
- Choose Clean power instead of the Dirty power you're now supporting by purchasing enough Green Tags to equal or exceed the average number of kilowatt hours you consume every month. You will pay an additional amount every month to "Green Up" your home and buy these Green Tags. This will not reduce your electric bill in any way, but is actually an extra cost. The average home in America uses just under 1,000 kilowatt hours per month. Krystal Planet's FutureWindSM product contains exactly 1,000 kilowatt hours every month, so for most people this will be adequate.
The cost for 1,000 kilowatt hours worth of Green Tags from wind
projects in the U.S. and Europe ranges from $20 per month to $50 per month.
You can purchase Green Tags from a 3rd party green tag marketing company such
as Krystal Planet, or from your utility if they even offer a green tag program
(only about 10% of utilities in the U.S. offer such programs). As of April 2004
there were about 3 million people in the U.S. who are buying green tags, which
represents just 1% of the population. The green tag market is growing at over
71% per year. Many countries in Europe have 30% of the population buying green
tags already, with tremendous progress in building new wind projects in those
countries as a result. Why are so many Europeans paying more for their power
in the form of Green Tags? Because, it's simply: the right thing to do.
A business could do the same thing. For example, Sprint Corporation, based in Overland Park, Kansas, a suburb of Kansas City, chose in April 2004 to purchase 2.5 Million kilowatt hours of Green Tags on a 2-year contract. This purchase enables Sprint to be able to claim that one of the buildings on the campus of their world headquarters is now 100% powered by clean, renewable wind energy and is the first totally pollution-free building in the Kansas City area.
Environmental Impact and BenefitsWhat kind of environmental impact do Green Tags have? Well, every household on FutureWindSM for one year directly eliminates the following 5 emissions:
- 172 milligrams
of mercury: just 1 milligram of mercury in a 25 acre lake is enough to make
all the fish in that lake unfit to eat. This is really toxic stuff. Mercury
has been strongly linked to autism, Alzheimer's and heart disease among other
illnesses. And yet power plants are responsible for 61% of all airborne mercury
in the U.S., a whopping 41 Million milligrams per year. That's almost 5,000
milligrams every minute. Just one average coal plant spews out hundreds of
pounds - tens of thousands of milligrams - of mercury every year. So each
home on FutureWindSM for a year helps save over 4,000 acres of lakes from
- 67 pounds of
nitrogen oxide, which causes smog, air pollution, creates dangerous ground
level ozone and has been proven to cause headaches and exacerbate asthma.
Cases of asthma in children in the U.S. have tripled in the last 2 decades,
and asthma is the leading cause of missed school days in the Northeast.
- 55 pounds of
sulfur dioxide, which causes acid rain and damages entire ecosystems and food
- 12 tons of carbon
dioxide, the leading global warming gas.
- And hundreds of pounds of particulate matter, which causes thousands of people to die in the U.S. every year from asthma attacks and upper respiratory illness, and hundreds of millions of dollars in direct healthcare costs.
So, the environmental impact of one person buying Green Tags is significant. But what kind of economic impact do Green Tags have for your region or country? Well, every 5,000 households on FutureWindSM for one year allows Krystal Planet to build a new $1.6 Million wind turbine, which has an economic impact to the community where it's located of about $5 Million over the 30-year life of the project. This includes land lease royalty payments, new jobs to maintain the wind turbine, initial construction jobs and local supplier contracts, and more. Add to that the additional economic benefits of the savings that result from lower healthcare costs from less pollution, stabilized energy prices for at least 30 years for that portion of the local power needs (the fuel source for a wind turbine is free!), reduced environmental clean up costs, reduced need to import oil and natural gas from overseas, etc.. In fact, several studies have shown that a massive conversion of America to clean, renewable power would create direct savings of at least $10 Trillion over 20 years, not even including all positive economic impact benefits. That savings alone is equivalent to one-third of the entire budget of the United States government over that same 20-year period. Imagine the possibilities of reducing our national debt and providing better services to our citizens with those savings.
Market Demand for Green TagsUtilities by law, in all 50 states, have to purchase clean energy for every green tag sold. This means that when you buy a Green Tag, you can be assured that somewhere in the grid those electrons were produced using clean power - and you're helping to incrementally 'Green Up' the national power grid.
So, what is the demand for Green Tags? Over 1,000 surveys and polls in recent years by numerous credible organizations such as the Edison Electric Institute, the United States National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the Electric Power Research Institute, Stanford University, and Platts Engineering have all said the same thing: 80% of Americans and 62% of businesses support clean, renewable power, even if it costs a little more for their utility to produce it. And 24% of Americans say they would pay more on their own electric bills for clean power in the form of Green Tags. That 24% represents a market of over 60 Million Americans - and yet today only about 3 Million have signed up for a Green Tag program. This market is in its infancy.
Pristine Power and Krystal Planet Green Tags
- It's 100% Tax deductible if you choose to donate your Green
Tag to a 501c3 non-profit after purchasing it from Krystal Planet. We've arranged
to make this so easy; it takes just one click of your mouse when enrolling
online to set this up.
- Monthly thank you gift - you'll receive a gift certificate
every month worth up to $15 in value as a way of saying thank you for doing
the right thing. The value of the tax deduction and the gift combined can
be as much as $30 per month, making your FutureWindSM a 'net-zero'
- Referral program - as a customer, you can refer other customers
to earn certain benefits, similar to what MCI Friends & Family and many
other similar programs used to do.
- Business Opportunity - if you really believe in what Krystal
Planet is doing, we have employment opportunities and business opportunities.
This allows you to profit by promoting clean power.
- Directly contribute to building new wind projects (in many cases, these projects will be constructed locally in your region when enough FutureWindSM customers enroll in your area). Again, every 5,000 homes allows KP to build another $1.6 Million 1.5 Megawatt wind turbine. Or, every 2,000 Planet Patrons on a 60-month FutureWindSM contract allow us to build a new turbine.
In closing, I want to encourage you to take the time to check us out. If you're a houshold or a small business, you can easily enroll on FutureWindSM. There's no contract, no startup cost and no risk. Just enroll on FutureWindSM at $30 per month, decide whether you want to donate it in order to get the tax deduction, and then watch for your thank you gift in the mail each month. That's it. Imagine how good it will feel when you read in the newspaper about a new wind turbine being constructed in your region by Krystal Planet and Pristine Power, and knowing that you played a part in helping to get it built.