Portland Oregon in 2001 made a commitment to be 100% green-powered by 2010.
In 2010, 9% of Portland’s power came from green sources.
Since then, Portland is now up to 24% green having added biogas and solar, with the remaining 76% coming from coal, gas, and nuclear.
Portland is pretending to be 100% green by spending $104,539 per year on “Renewable Energy Certificates”, which are certificates documenting that somewhere in the United States solar or wind energy was generated and these certificates represent the specific kWh’s generated at another location. Portland is paying money to “claim” those kWh’s, even though a significant portion of what they spend goes to the salaries of those selling the certificates.
Obviously solar power is only going to be generated in the day, (about 18% of the 24 hour day) and wind power is generated only when the wind is blowing (about 25-40% of a 24 hour day). Nevertheless, Portland can claim they are offsetting their coal, gas, and nuclear power at night when the wind is not even blowing at this other location. These certificates are not actual kWh’s that charge your cell phone or cook your dinner. It’s merely paper certificates. The actual “green” kWh’s will be used at the location they were generated. Meanwhile, for Portland to provide electricity to their citizens at night, when the wind is not blowing, they are going to need to continue running their coal, gas, or nuclear plants.
Now if you go to this other location that actually generates the solar or wind, they too will claim that they have 24% green power without mentioning the REC’s that back them up (which they have sold).
Associated has 1250 MW of wind energy and they do sell a few REC’s, however, the market for these in the Midwest is very weak (nobody wants them). The market on the east and west coast is much stronger, with REC’s even being bought by big corporations, such as Whole Food, Facebook, and Microsoft to make them feel “green” (don’t have to install wind or solar – just buy REC’s, it’s cheaper, 90%), and they can brag that they are 100% green, even though their local utility uses coal and gas.
Bill Gates once said, “If you could pick one thing to reduce poverty, by far it would be energy.” I would add one word, “If you could pick one thing to reduce poverty, by far it would be “affordable” energy.”
The cheapest power we have is hydropower, then coal, then gas, then wind. REC’s, carbon taxes, and over regulations will drive up the cost of our energy and make it more difficult on those struggling to make ends meet.
Nevertheless, Howard Electric through Associated Electric can offer our members REC’s for those who are interested. However, keep in mind, 25% of the power you bought from Howard Electric in 2020 was green power, higher than Portland.