IT’S A LITTLE EASIER BEING GREEN

  • 4toner4
  • 161213_banner_futorag_902x177px
  • clover-depot-intl-us-ca-email-signature-05-10-2017-902x1772
  • 05 02 2016 429716a-cig-clearchoice-banner-902x177
  • 2toner1-2
  • ink-direct-banner-902-x-177-v-1-2-big-banner-03-23-2017
  • Print
  • futor_902x177v7-tonernew
  • banner-01-26-17b
  • cartridgewebsite-com-big-banner-02-09-07-2016
  • mse-big-banner-new-03-17-2016-416716a-tonernews-web-banner-mse-212
Share

IT’S A LITTLE EASIER BEING GREEN

 user 2006-04-12 at 10:54:00 am Views: 60
  • #14980

    It’s A Little Easier Being Green
    Consumers and companies are giving alternative energy a boost with “green tags”
    Martin
    Hughes is not your typical hybrid-driving, clean-energy fanatic. Hughes
    and his wife, both longtime oil-industry veterans, zoom around Houston
    in no-compromise vehicles. His, a Nissan  Xterra SUV. Hers, a zippy
    Volkswagen Passat.Yet when Hughes heard last year about an
    environmental startup called TerraPass Inc., he was intrigued. The
    Menlo Park (Calif.) company sells “green tags,” which cost up to $80 a
    year and which are designed to offset the emissions a car spews into
    the air during that period. After taking a small cut of each sale,
    TerraPass pools its members’ fees and invests them in clean energy
    production, including wind power. Hughes checked out the service online
    last August and then forked over $129 for two TerraPass windshield
    decals. “I was impressed,” he says. “It’s a for-profit product that
    allows you to exercise your conscience.”
    TerraPass is channeling the
    good intentions of individual consumers concerned about carbon
    emissions, which are linked with global warming. U.S. companies are
    also adopting the certificates, in part because they wish to cater to
    this growing, green constituency. But the tags, which are now America’s
    fastest-growing alternative-energy product, aren’t simply a marketing
    vehicle. U.S. businesses have watched Europe and Japan adopt tough
    regulations on carbon emissions and say the tags could help them
    prepare for similar developments in the U.S.
    Starbucks  Corp. has
    been a leader in the green-tag movement, mainly because renewable power
    is still hard to come by. Last year, Starbucks made a pledge to buy 20%
    of the annual electric power for its North American stores — about 150
    million kilowatt hours — from renewable sources. But no single wind
    farm can service all 8,400 of its U.S. coffee shops. In fact, many
    Starbucks have no means of hooking up to any renewable power producer.
    So
    Starbucks stores continue to consume power as usual, but the company
    passes an extra payment of less than half a cent per kwh to a middleman
    called 3 Phases Energy Services in San Francisco. 3 Phases
    redistributes funds to 40 wind farms across the country, then issues a
    certificate. With this subsidy, the farms cut the price of their power
    and boost sales to local customers. The net effect: Nationwide, an
    amount of power equal to Starbucks’ purchase is shifted to wind and
    away from conventional “dirty” sources.
    A host of companies is now
    using this clever type of transaction to meet renewable energy targets,
    slash emissions, and make their brands stand out. Whole Foods Market
    Inc. (WFMI ), based in Austin, Tex., turned to certificates in January,
    when it decided to offset 100% of its energy consumption with
    renewables. Whole Foods quickly became the biggest corporate buyer of
    such tags in the U.S. Safeway (SWY ), Liz Claiborne (LIZ ), and HSBC
    (HBC ) have also made major pledges in the past year. “We’ll see more
    and more reliance on [tags]” in coming months, says Blair Swezey, a
    policy adviser at the U.S. National Renewable Energy Laboratory in
    Golden, Colo.
    Green tags come with a cost. For big purchases, the
    certificates can tack an extra 0.5% to 8% onto an energy bill. “It’s
    not a financial hardship, but it is an incremental amount of money
    that’s not required,” says Steve McDougal, senior manager of business
    development at 3 Phases, which also supplies green tags to Johnson
    & Johnson (JNJ ) and IBM (IBM ). Still, the premium that most
    companies pay for green tags works out to far less than they would pay
    to buy renewable power directly from a patchwork of suppliers, McDougal
    says.
    Now utilities are snapping up green tags as they scramble to
    meet new renewable energy regulations. To date, 23 states have adopted
    requirements that power companies replace a portion of the energy they
    sell with renewable power. California is committed to a goal of 20% by
    2017, and New York has to hit 25% by 2013. In many cases, green tags
    offer the easiest path to meet the new minimums.
    For retail
    operations such as Starbucks and Whole Foods, the tags help attract a
    green clientele. For industrial companies such as DuPont, Staples, and
    J&J, green tags are also a way to meet, or anticipate, regulations.
    With the carbon-restricting rules of the Kyoto Accord in effect in
    Europe, Canada, and Japan, many such companies are trying to align
    their U.S. operations with global practices. “We need to understand how
    to do business as a company in a carbon-constrained environment,” says
    Mark Buckley, vice-president for environmental affairs at Staples Inc.
    (SPLS ), which aims to reduce its emissions by 7% by 2010. Meanwhile, a
    clutch of state-backed and nonprofit auditors, such as Green-e in San
    Francisco, is trying to standardize how tags are measured and tracked.
    While
    many companies are just beginning to experiment with green
    certificates, individuals are using them to offset the power consumed
    in everything from cross-country flights to wedding receptions and ski
    trips. At Mt. Hood Meadows Ski Resort, an hour east of Portland, Ore.,
    18,000 skiers purchased green tags this year. One was Allen Engle, an
    electrical engineer in Bend, Ore. He buys a $2 green tag along with his
    $48 lift ticket, to compensate for the power consumed on his day trip
    to the slopes. “To get any new technology started, you need incentives,
    like tax incentives,” says Engle. For many companies and consumers,
    tags are an acceptable short-term cost.