Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Green Energy in South Carolina

Last week, I was reading Clean Tech Revolution and discovered that Austin Energy is the nation's leader in selling green power. Curious to see how they pulled this off, I logged on to Austin Energy's website, and found that they offer a Greenchoice energy program in which their customers pay an additional 2.05 cents per kilowatt hour to be supplied with local, clean energy. This made me wonder, does South Carolina have a program like this set up? The answer is yes they have a program, but not an identical one. As of April 2008, SCE&G, Duke Energy Corp., and Progress Energy Inc. are all offering to sell green energy to their 1.3 million South Carolina customers.

So why have South Carolina’s programs not been as successful as Austin Energy, who’s Greenchoice program often has a waiting list? The answer may lie in the fact that South Carolina’s energy companies charge a 4 cent premium for green energy while Austin Energy only charges a 2 cent premium. Also, Austin Energy offers a 5 year green energy contract. This binding agreement is popular because many customers believe that it will save them money in the long run, as regular energy prices continue to rise. If South Carolina energy companies enacted similar programs, demand for green energy would rise, as would local green energy production. Currently, South Carolina’s energy companies are supplied with green energy from several landfill methane projects and one solar project. If demand for green energy rises as much as it has in Austin (up 400million kwh since 2007), South Carolina would see a large amount of growth in the green energy industry, especially wind and solar. This would create more jobs in South Carolina, and put this state on the map as a mecca for green energy production.


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