CAMBRIDGE, MASSACHUSETTS - May 1 - More than a million Boston-area electricity customers now have the option of buying 100 percent of their power from wind, thanks to yesterday's announcement that Massachusetts has approved NSTAR's green power program. The program should serve as a model for the rest of the nation, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), which helped the utility design it.
"NSTAR's state-of-the-art green power program draws on lessons learned from the best examples across the country," said John Rogers, manager of UCS's Northeast Clean Energy Project. "This program gives customers real choices—which they can mark right on their energy bills—for fighting global warming pollution by buying clean energy sources."
Rogers led a coalition of clean energy advocates that worked with NSTAR on the program's design. The coalition, which included UCS, the Conservation Law Foundation and Environment Massachusetts, also testified before the state's Department of Public Utilities.
To "power" the program, NSTAR has signed 10-year contracts for 60 megawatts of wind power from two wind farms, one in New York, the other in Maine. Such long-term contracts enable wind developers to obtain financing, which ultimately lowers consumers' utility bills. The two contracts also will likely make it less expensive for NSTAR to meet the state's renewable electricity standard, which requires utilities to obtain 4 percent of their energy from clean sources by 2009. Meanwhile, encouraging renewable energy development diversifies the region's energy supply and protects customers from spikes in the price of other energy sources, such as natural gas.
NSTAR is directly offering customers the choice of purchasing 50 or 100 percent wind power. Customers selecting one of the green power options on their bills would pay premiums above the basic plan to reduce global warming pollution. Most of the nation's electricity production comes from fossil fuels, mainly coal, which is the nation's biggest source of global warming pollution. By contrast, wind power and other renewable sources of energy do not produce global warming emissions.
"With this new program, NSTAR becomes part of the solution—helping their customers choose a responsible energy future and a more stable climate," said Alan Nogee, UCS's Clean Energy Program director. "I intend to be one of the first customers to sign up."
"Long-term contracts with wind farms and other renewable energy projects make sense for customers, the region's growing clean energy industry, and the planet," said Rogers.
For more information about purchasing green power, go to www.ucsusa.org/clean_energy/renewable_energy_basics/buy-green-power.html.