July 22, 2006

Big difference between green tags and wind energy

Recently, the National Geographic Society and the New York Audubon society, like many companies, such as Whole Foods and Tom's of Maine, have claimed that they are buying "wind power." But in fact they are only buying "green tags."

Green tags represent the output of a renewable energy plant, such as an industrial wind power facility, and they can be sold in addition to the actual energy produced. They were invented by Enron to increase the possible sources of revenue for wind plants.

But buying green tags does not add renewable energy to the grid, because that energy was already sold to the grid.

As National Wind Watch board member Eric Rosenbloom says, "It's as if a grocery store sold a box of cereal to someone but keeps the box to sell later to someone else. The first customer gets the cereal (and the prize), and the second customer just gets the empty box. You can put it on your shelf and tell people you bought a box of cereal, but in fact you did not."

In buying green tags, an organization thereby supports wind energy projects by providing them with extra money. That is all that can be claimed. They are not buying wind energy -- neither for themselves nor for others.

wind power, wind energy, environment, environmentalism