Utility offers customers way to invest in renewable energy sources

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(Host) Vermont’s second largest utility says it has eliminated its so-called “carbon footprint” – meaning its taken steps to effectively neutralize its use of non-renewable energy.

Now the company says it wants to give its customers the same opportunity.

VPR’s Steve Zind reports:

(Zind) In a way it’s a form of penance. Green Mountain Power customers can atone for their fossil fuel sins.

The company is giving them the chance to invest in renewable energy sources to offset their consumption of gasoline, heating oil and natural gas.

The program, called Choose2bgreen, works this way: GMP customers who visit the company’s Website have several ways to reduce their fossil fuel footprint.

First, they can purchase energy from renewable sources which can cost anywhere from little under $4 to just over $30 a month more, depending on how much renewable energy is purchased and used.

Other ways GMP customers can buy into the program are by calculating how much energy they use driving or heating their homes with fossil fuels. The calculations are based on averages. They don’t take into account how many miles you drive or how much fuel oil or natural gas you use to heat your home.

So, for example if you drive a small car or a hybrid, you’d pay an extra $3 in your monthly electric bill to offset the impact your vehicle has on the environment. If you heat your home with non-renewable energy and drive an SUV, it’ll cost you an additional $20 a month.

GMP is hoping customers will buy into this concept of paying higher electric bills even at a time when fuel and gasoline prices are climbing.

(Dutton) “It’ll be interesting to see.”

(Zind) Christopher Dutton is Green Mountain Power’s CEO. Dutton says in survey after survey, customers have expressed an interest in doing their part to reduce reliance on fossil fuels.

(Dutton) “Lots of customers say they’re willing to pay more. This gives us a real opportunity to find out how much customers mean what they say.”

(Zind) GMP says the money generated by the new program will help pay for construction of renewable energy sources.

The company will work with Charlotte-based Native Energy which specializes in building community based renewable energy projects. Tom Boucher is President and CEO of Native energy says

(Boucher) “Our focus here with Green Mountain Power’s new program is to definitely bring Vermont projects to the table. Vermonter’s like the ability to support local projects and we certainly want to help make that happen.”

(Zind) Boucher says it’s likely the money that comes from GMP’s Choose2bgreen program will be used for projects to generate power from methane produced by manure on Vermont farms, and also for wood chip generating facilities.

Green Mountain Power itself spends $12,000 annually for these energy buy backs. The company says that, in combination with other energy saving measures have zeroed out its own use of fossil fuels.

For VPR news, I’m Steve Zind.

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