FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 14, 2014
CONTACT: Rebecca Band, 510 326 0897
VACAVILLE, CA — Marin Clean Energy has been loudly touting its “green” power supply in mailings, promotional materials and talking points. However, recent filings with the California Energy Commission (CEC) make clear that MCE overwhelmingly relies on fossil fuels for its electricity supply. In fact when it comes to supplying clean energy, MCE falls far short of the claims it has made in marketing materials and ads, and is lagging well behind other power providers and utilities in the area.
“MCE is intentionally misleading its customers,” said Hunter Stern, Business Representative, IBEW Local 1245. “The CEC filings show that more than 70% of MCE’s power supply comes from fossil fuels. Yet MCE is saying its products are ‘100% green’ or ‘100% renewable’. We would never allow a utility company to get away with this kind of deception in its advertising and MCE shouldn’t get away with it either. These new filings confirm what we’ve been saying all along — if someone is saying you can get something for nothing, they’re lying.”
On July 1, energy providers were required to submit a comprehensive list of their power sources to the California Energy Commission. An analysis of the reports of four different power suppliers makes clear that MCE is not only misleading to its customers in its marketing, it’s not even doing as well as other utilities in supplying non-greenhouse gas producing or renewable fuels.
MCE makes such bold “green” claims because of its purchase of a now discredited methodology called “renewable energy certificates,” or RECs.
RECs have been criticized as a “scam” and a form of “greenwashing” that allow energy companies to buy and sell dirty power while claiming it is “renewable.”
For example, MCE can purchase natural gas power via Shell Oil and then purchase a renewable energy certificate to support their claim that the Shell-generated energy is “renewable”.
“RECs are not energy. They are pieces of paper that are increasingly understood to do nothing to contribute to new green energy supply,” said Stern.
In fact, since RECs aren’t actually renewable energy, California is currently phasing out their use.
MCE relies heavily on these so-called “unbundled RECs” to meet its renewable energy requirements, essentially using these paper certificates to allow it to claim it’s selling a “green” product.
However, the CEC filings show definitively that MCE’s actual power supply is dirtier than MCE has publicly admitted.
- MCE claims in its marketing that its “Deep Green” program is 100% renewable and its “Light Green” program is 51% renewable. In fact, its Light Green supply is only 19.84% renewable and its Deep Green product is 100% renewable energy certificates (RECs), according to the CEC filings.
- MCE does even worse when it comes to producing non-greenhouse gas emitting power. In the most recent data available, only 30.16% of its power is from non-GHG sources, compared to:
- 54% for PG&E
- 48.18% for the City of Healdsburg
- 40% for SMUD
At the same time MCE continues to rely on RECs to obscure its true power supply, it has brazenly advertised its products as being “green”, claiming in a recent mailing that its “Light Green” program consists of 12% eligible hydroelectric power and 33% wind power. In fact, according to the 2013 data, only 6.6% of MCE’s power is truly eligible hydro and only 8.7% is wind.
Worse, the same mail piece claims that its “Deep Green” program consists of 100% wind power. That is 100% false. And while MCE also states its power supply is not only more renewable than alternatives but of comparable price, it’s clear that those rates are only achievable through the accounting trickery of RECs.
“MCE is spending ratepayer dollars making blatantly false claims about its products and lobbying to sell its dirty power to even more customers,” said Stern. “MCE is hiding its true sources of power and falling behind when it comes to meeting renewable standards and supplying customers with non-greenhouse gas sources of energy.”