Green money earning some greener energy

With hopes that future generations will be able to live off renewable resources such as wind or solar power, Martin Edwards of Kingston is paying a little more on his electric bill today.

Edwards is part of Puget Sound Energy’s Green Power program. Participating customers contribute a certain amount of dollars toward the program, which in turn, goes toward helping pay for the cost of renewable resources.

“It seems like a simple way to support a green project,” Edwards said. “I feel like they are trying to support alternative forms of energy. I’m following with my pocketbook.”

Since PSE doesn’t have its own source of renewable energy, it partnered with Bonneville Education Foundation 18 months ago.

The non-profit group works as the middle man between utility companies and renewable resource businesses in gathering support for alternative means of energy.

PSE purchases “green tags,” certificates explaining the environmental benefits of having renewable resources, from the non-profit organization, said Marketing Assistant of Bonneville Education Foundation John Rankin. PSE then sells the green tags to the customers.

Rankin said money for the green power program does two things: First, it supports the existing renewable resources in this region; and second, the money is reinvested back into new renewable projects, such as solar panels for schools.

“We’ve been really, really happy with PSE program,” Rankin said. “In fact, the amount of green tags PSE ended up purchasing from us far, far exceeded what we had in our estimates.”

Commercial, residential and industrial customers can purchase the minimum of two blocks of green power for $4, said Mike Richardson, the manager for renewable energy customer programs for PSE. Charges show up on monthly bills as a line item for purchasing of green power.

For the month of July, 184 customers in Hansville, Kingston, Poulsbo and Port Gamble were contributing to the Northwest power grid through their financial contributions.

Hansville resident Jane Ritley said she and her family try to be very environmentally aware of everything they do.

“I really support alternative energy and it’s important to put your money behind where your beliefs are,” she said.

“It seemed to be a positive way to minimize the gump and gunk in the atmosphere,” added Poulsbo resident Tom McClure.

“If lined up against traditional electric facilities, generation from renewable is more expensive, so the idea behind these programs is to encourage development of these projects,” Richardson said.

The idea is to encourage enough installation of resources not only here, but throughout the world to bring down the overall cost of the green alternatives, he added.

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