When is clean energy not clean energy? When it’s actually energy from fossil fuels greenwashed with paper credits. The energy provided by Shell Oil to Marin purports to be “clean” but is in fact mostly from greenhouse gas producing sources. Compared to the energy supplied by PG&E, Shell falls far short.
Marin Clean Energy is Full of Carbon- They Just Don’t Want You to Know It
According to MCE’s own documents, less than 23% of its power supply comes from true renewable energy. (Source: Figure 4 pg 13; Table 4 pg 16; Appendix A pg 23; MCE Integrated Resource Plan, 2013, – (See graphs below.)
Beyond that, MCE is overwhelmingly reliant on so-called “unbundled renewable energy certificates” amounting to at least 36% in 2012 (Source: MEA AB162 filing 2012). These certificates have been harshly criticized by environmental advocates as a form of “greenwashing”.
- One recent article harshly criticizes the use of “unbundled RECS”, noting, “Many states have laws that label dirty power generation like burning tires or trash as renewable. If these facilities are awarded RECs and can sell them across state lines, a city’s purchase of “green” power may not be green at all.” (Source: Institute for Local Self-Reliance, “Greening or Green-washing?“)
- Another expert called these types of RECS “a scam” writing, “It would be great if the purchase of certificates made up the difference between conventional and renewable power, but at best this is a token subsidy for renewable energy. Most sales don’t do much beyond paying the salaries — of people selling certificates. Consumers and producers have embraced market-based solutions, but scams like this threaten to discredit the market.” (Source: Daniel Press, professor and chair of the Environmental Studies Department at UC-Santa Cruz, as quoted in the San Jose Mercury News, 4/1/2009)
- In fact, RECs are not a form of power at all. They are merely certificates that accompany different power sources that can be sold or traded separate from their actual underlying energy. Because RECs aren’t true renewable energy, California is phasing out their use, reducing maximum purchases from 15 percent to only 10 percent in 2018. (Source: CPUC 33% RPS Procurement Rules)
By MCE’s own accounting, they are buying unbundled RECs far above that level. Why? To hide the true origins of its power supply.
Overstating Wind Power
- While MCE claims to receive significant amounts of power from “wind” (amounting to 30% of it’s total supply) their own documents say that non-REC wind amounts to only 4% of its supply (Source: Proposed Annual Report to the California Energy Commission, June 2012; MCE Integrated Resource Plan, 2013)
- The remaining “wind” power claimed by MCE comes in the form of “RECs”.
Overstating Solar Power
- MCE claims to get 6% of its power mix from solar – in reality, MCE gets virtually no power at all from non-REC solar sources. The only solar project that directly supplies power to MCE is the San Rafael Airport Project which supplies 0.17% of power a year. (Source: Proposed Annual Report to the California Energy Commission, June 2012; Appendix A pg 23, MCE Integrated Resource Plan, 2013)
BioMass – The New Coal
- MCE does accurately claim that a significant portion of its power supply – between 9-12% comes from biomass. Unfortunately, this can hardly be characterized as “clean” energy. Recent studies have found biomass to be more polluting than coal.
- “Biomass electricity generation, a heavily subsidized form of “green” energy that relies primarily on the burning of wood, is more polluting and worse for the climate than coal, according to a new analysis of 88 pollution permits for biomass power plants in 25 states.” (Source: Partnership for Policy Integrity; “Trees, Trash and Toxics: How Biomass Energy Has Become the New Coal”, 4/2/14)
Learn more at //www.stoptheshellshock.org/cities/shell-oil-in-marin/.