Where Does Green Mountain's Energy Come From?

  1. Landfill gas contaminated with dozens of toxic chemicals
  2. Green Mountain
    claims to be using landfill gas as its primary source of new renewables. In early 1999, Green Mountain claimed to be using 4 specific landfill gas burners in New Jersey and Michigan. It turns out that they lied about all of these. Green Mountain has not disclosed the true locations of the landfill gas burners in their mix. To learn more about landfill gas burning and why is isn't "green," please read the Primer on Landfill Gas as "Green" Energy.

  3. Waste Wood Incinerators
  4. Green Mountain has claimed to be using energy in its California products that comes from lumber industry wood waste incinerators in Oregon and Washington. However, when the two facilities in Oregon were contacted in preparation for a report by Public Citizen called Green Buyers Beware, it turned out that the facilities were not aware that their energy was being marketed by Green Mountain and apparently the money charged to customers was not passed along to them.

    In the Pennsylvania and New Jersey markets (Green Mountain only has markets in CA, PA & NJ so far), there are several wood waste incinerators whose energy could be sold as "green." Proposed new construction/demolition wood waste incinerators have been kicked out of several communities in Pennsylvania, Maryland and Delaware in the past few years. On April 24th, 2000, a law was passed in Delaware state banning the "green energy" wood waste incinerators that have been threatening Delaware communities.* Before being banned by Delaware's new law, Philpower Corporation's proposed wood waste incinerator has been kicked out of 5-6 Delaware communities, most of them targeted for poor, minority neighborhoods.

    Currently, there are still "green energy" marketers proposing to build new construction/demolition wood waste incinerators in New Jersey. If any of these wood waste incinerators are constructed, their power may be sold by Green Mountain as "new renewable" power. Green Mountain has indicated a willingness to market this sort of polluting energy.

    Information on the hazards of wood waste incineration can be found in the article titled, "The Burning Issues with Biomass."

    * Delaware's new law also bans the "green energy" chicken shit incinerators proposed by Fibrowatt and Allen's Family Foods. These companies are now looking to eastern Maryland to build their waste burners.

  5. Hydroelectric Dams
  6. Hydroelectric dams currently qualify as "renewable" under the Green-e certification program if they are under 30 megawatts in capacity. In early 1999, Green Mountain claimed to be selling energy from a small hydro dam in New Jersey in their Pennsylvania energy products. It turned out that they were lying. At the same time, they claimed to be selling energy from a large (non-renewable) dam in West Virginia. From what we can tell, this is true. However, the money from the sale of this power would go to a company that is 99% coal-powered (Allegheny Power) and would do nothing to increase renewable energy or benefit the environment in any way.

  7. Natural Gas
  8. Green Mountain claims to have natural gas - a non-renewable fossil fuel - in their products. If they were telling the truth in early 1999 (when they lied about most of their other energy sources), they are buying some natural gas power from Conectiv Energy's Hay Road natural gas plant in Delaware. While natural gas is cleaner than coal and nuclear power, it still releases global warming gases, acid rain precursors, and hazardous air pollutants, including lead, mercury, benzene and formaldehyde. For info on natural gas health hazards, visit www.green-energy.org/naturalgas/.

  9. Wind
  10. In California, Green Mountain is selling power from new wind turbines that they were billing customers for before they were even built. These wind turbines may not have been built if it weren't for the California state ratepayers helping fund it through the state's system benefits charge and through other state subsidies that provides money for such things. Green Mountain has been deceiving customers into thinking that they alone (through the "free market") accomplished the building of these wind turbines. That's simply not true. Regardless, it's a wonderful thing that these wind turbines exist and Green Mountain should be encouraged to spend their own money to build lots more instead of providing so much of their power from air-polluting energy sources like biomass incineration and landfill gas.

    In Pennsylvania, Green Mountain has been advertising since January, 1999 as if they have wind turbines in their mix. For at least several months, Green Mountain wouldn't even claim that they had wind power in their mix (they likely had none). At some point in 1999, they claimed to be reselling wind power from Searsburg, Vermont (a 6 megawatt wind farm that was built in part with federal tax dollars) to Pennsylvania customers. To the extend that this was true, they were simply taking wind power out of the mix that Vermont customers used to get to sell it to Pennsylvania customers. In other words, they were only moving existing supplies around (on paper) and were doing nothing to improve the environment.

    Not until recently, has Green Mountain had NEW wind power in their mix. A 10 megawatt wind farm in Somerset County in southwest Pennsylvania was built to supply Green Mountain's mix and should be doing so starting around May 2000. This is very commendable that they have this new wind capacity being built. Green Mountain should build more wind power and should commit to not using polluting sources of power.

  11. Tiny amounts of solar
  12. Building solar power costs about 10 times more than building wind power. Although the solar project that Green Mountain installed near Philadelphia in 1999 was the largest solar project in the state, it's still extremely tiny by electricity standards. It sits on the roof of a BJ's warehouse and generates a mere 43 kilowatts - not even enough to power the building it sits on.

    Until solar prices come down a lot, don't expect to see any significant amounts of solar power built for the green energy market. Marketers like Green Mountain are likely to continue to build only as much as they need for a good Earth Day press release.

  13. No one knows for sure because they don't have to tell anyone
  14. No state or federal laws require that energy marketers tell you exactly what plants make your electricity. Some require mild disclosure that will give you a very vague idea (ex: 25% hydro, 25% biomass, 50% natural gas). However, you have no right to know what specific facilities provide your power. You also don't get to know which corporations end up with the extra amount that you might pay for a green energy product. Even with the Green-e certification program for "green" electricity, you don't get to know anything more than vague percentages ot types of power. If you're concerned that energy from a specific incinerator or other power station in your community is being sold as green power, you're out of luck. You have to rely on the good graces of companies and certifiers who lie to people if you want to find out the truth.

  15. All of the above
  16. Yes. All of the above are true. If you haven't read them yet, click here to go to the top of this page.

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