RE Owners Unaware of Green Tag Returns

According to a recent survey of small-scale renewable energy site owners, less than one in ten small-scale producers of renewable energy are aware they have title to green tags, or that these tags can be sold for extra revenue. Green tags, which foster increased installation of renewable energy capacity, have experienced significant growth within the last few years but have largely focused on major installations such as wind farms, hydro-projects, and waste to energy sites.

Chicago, Illinois, July 18, 2003 [] Green tags are environmental certificates that represent the positive attributes of renewable energy. These tags become separated, or “unbundled,” from the actual electricity at the point of generation, and can be sold independently. They can be used to earn an additional US$1-100 per MWhr of electricity produced from renewables, whether by solar photovoltaics (PV), wind, biomass, biofuel, geothermal, or hydropower. But according to the recent survey conducted by Mainstay Energy, a renewable energy financing company headquartered in Chicago, only 9.2 percent of small-scale renewable energy site owners know what a green tag is. According to the survey, only 6.3 percent know that green tags can be sold for extra revenue. Almost any renewable energy installation that is grid-connected and less than five years old is eligible to receive green tag, said Mainstay. These tags are traded on national markets. However, most smaller-scale renewable energy installations have been unable to capitalize on green tags, because either they did not know about them, or their sites are too small to produce a marketable quantity of green tags. Mainstay Energy is introducing a program to purchase green tags from small-scale renewable sites, enabling site owners to earn this extra revenue from their installations. “Mainstay Energy is the first company in the U.S. to offer a national program to purchase green tags from small-scale renewables,” said Mainstay Energy CEO Hoyt Hudson. “We are excited to be providing this valuable service that allows small-scale sites to participate in national environmental markets.” The green tags purchased by Mainstay are aggregated and brought to market as “Green-e” certified wholesale and retail products. Green-e is a voluntary certification program established by the Center for Resource Solutions, a national nonprofit organization that encourages sustainable growth and promotes the use of renewable energy. Green tags are becoming increasingly popular as a way for companies, government agencies, and individuals to support renewable energy. “The ‘Rewards’ program from Mainstay Energy offers a way for renewable energy to be even more practical than it already is,” said Hudson. “The sale of green tags accelerates the payback time on almost any grid-tied renewable energy project, usually between 10 percent and 50 percent.” Even among people who understand what green tags are, there is confusion about when a site is eligible to receive green tags. For example, a site can receive green tags even if it is not “exporting” electricity to the grid; and the fact that the site is offsetting grid electricity is what counts, said Mainstay. Also, sites are eligible for revenue from green tags even if they are in a net-metering agreement with their electric utility, said the company.

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