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Buying Green Power

Can I Buy Green Power in my State?

Consumer Protection

Large Purchasers of Green Power

Consumer Protection

A number of programs or initiatives have been developed in the U.S. to help address green power product credibility, such as certification programs and advertising and marketing guidelines. These programs help to verify green power marketer claims as well as to educate and inform customers about environmentally preferable competitive market choices.

With the development of green power markets in the late 1990s, organizations began to recognize a need for standards and guidelines to ensure consumer protection. In 1998, the Center for Resource Solutions began certifying competitive retail electricity products in California with its Green-e Renewable Electricity Certification Program. CRS' Green-e Energy certification now certifies renewable energy credits, utility green pricing programs, and competitive electricity products. The Green-e National Standard contains many elements, including that products cannot be double-counted (e.g. they cannot count towards a state's renewable portfolio standard), products must be from new renewable energy projects (as of July 15, 2011, "new" will be defined as 15 years before the year of sale), and the seller's claims must be verified twice a year.

In 2000, the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) finalized its Environmental Marketing Guidelines for Electricity. The guidelines apply to the marketing of claims concerning the environmental attributes of electricity products.

The Low Impact Hydro Institute developed a certification standard in January 2000. The certification program is designed to evaluate the environmental impacts of hydro resources using objective environmental criteria and to provide customers with a basis for choosing environmentally preferable hydro resources. The Low Impact Hydro standard is used by Green-e Energy and other certifying organizations to determine eligibility of hydro facilities.

Regional REC tracking systems were developed in the early 2000s to provide a mechanism for utilities to prove compliance with state renewable energy standards. REC tracking systems provide a basis for creating, managing, and retiring RECs, ensuring that each REC is counted only once. REC tracking systems now cover the entire U.S.

In October 2012, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) published revisions to its Green Guides that include new guidance on making renewable energy claims. The Green Guides, which were last revised in 1998, provide guidance to marketers in order to help them from making misleading environmental claims. The FTC added new guidance on making "made with renewable energy" claims and about on-site hosting issues.


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