November 1, 2006

Whole Fools

Whole Foods has now extended their own folly of buying "wind energy credits" by offering them to their customers. To see the absurdity of the scheme, apply it to the food shelf cards that are similarlyly available at many grocery store checkouts.

Buying a $5 food card means that the grocer will give away $5 of food on your behalf. But if it worked like a wind power card, that $5 food shelf card would represent $6.25 of the wholesale price difference between a "gourmet" food item and its mundane counterpart which may cost the grocer, say, $13. The supplier will still sell the gourmet item to grocers for $19.25 but now will get an extra $5.00 because of your generosity (minus the cut for the broker who set this thing up).

It's nice to thus help your preferred suppliers stay in business, but you can not claim to have offset any part of your own good fortune to be able to buy food or -- alternatively -- to have replaced any conventional items on the shelves with the premium product. In fact, nothing is changed except the amount of money the producer makes.

And so it is with wind energy credits, a cynical invention of Enron that "green" hucksters have made their own.

Enron convinced California that the extra cost of wind energy could be sold separately as its "environmental attributes." Then they made sure that the state required the purchase of a certain percentage of renewable energy, to be represented by certificates for those environmental attributes -- green tags. That system is now the norm across the nation. A wind facility still sells its production to utilities at a premium price. In addition, it sells the certificates on a completely separate market. It can sell the electricity twice!

Whole Foods and other companies do not change their or anyone else's energy use by buying wind energy certificates, nor do their customers in buying wind power cards or stickers. They are simply donating a little money to wind companies (such as Electricité de France, Scottish Power, Iberdrola, Florida Power & Light, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, etc.) and mostly enriching the green tag brokers, the heirs of Enron.

wind power, wind energy, environment, environmentalism, Vermont, anarchism, anarchosyndicalism