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Truckee utility promotes renewable energy

As part of a campaign to lower the nation’s carbon footprint, the Truckee Donner Public Utility District will ask its residential and commercial clients to pay a voluntary fee to subsidize renewable energy projects.

Ratepayer contributions would be added to a fund that would help pay for innovative energy projects nationwide.

At a meeting Wednesday evening, the public utility’s board of directors asked staff to develop a voluntary Renewable Energy Credits program.



Renewable energy is generated from sources that have a relatively low impact on the environment, including wind, solar power, geothermal, biomass and hydropower, said Kathleen Neus, the district’s technical program administrator.

The board did not determine the fee that willing customers would pay. Neus said the size of the proposed fee would depend on the type of energy projects ” wind, solar or otherwise ” the district decides to fund.



However, she said the staff has recommended a fee of 1.5 cents per kilowatt-hour per month, which would be tacked onto the current kilowatt-hour charge of 12.8 cents. In other words, customers using an average 761 kilowatt-hours per month would see a $11.42 increase in their monthly bill.

If a fourth of the district’s 12,400 customers choose to participate, the program could generate as much as $35,000 a month.

In exchange for the voluntary monthly contribution, the customer would receive a “green tag” or certificate that would represent 1,000 kilowatt-hour of electricity generated from an eligible renewable energy source, Neus said. A thousand kilowatt-hours of renewable energy is enough to offset the exhaust emissions of a typical car driven for 1,500 miles.

Because the district does not own any green resources ” such as wind turbines ” the program would provide customers a way to support the replacement of traditional, dirtier energy sources with clean energy.

According to Neus, the district won’t necessarily buy the green power generated with the help of the renewable energy credit. Instead, the district hopes to profit the nation’s energy-conservation efforts as a whole.

The program would be strictly voluntary, and the incentive for customers would be the knowledge that their contribution offsets the emission of carbon dioxide, said board President Tim Taylor.

“It would be like a donation so that somebody somewhere can use more wind energy, for example,” Taylor said. “It would be [motivated by] the customer’s desire to be more green.”

The district would not benefit financially by offering the program, since all of the revenue generated by the program would be reinvested in new forms of renewable energy, Taylor said.

“The only benefit to the district itself is public relations,” he said.

Although Renewable Energy Credits, or RECs, can be purchased online through various environmental organizations, Neus said the district’s goal is to make the certificates more accessible to its customers.

“We want to make it as uncomplicated as possible to buy RECs,” she said. “And we want to do something good for the environment.”


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