Green Power Switch strives to be environment-friendly

By Greg Miller
STAR STAFF
gmiller@starhq.com

   The Green Power Switch program is friendly to the environment, according to Brent Dugger, Elizabethton Electric System (EES) industrial relations/marketing representative.
   The program, Dugger said, "produces and adds cleaner and greener sources of electricity to TVA's overall grid system" in seven states. "It reduces the amount of air pollution that is caused by other types of electrical generation, such as coal." Solar, wind and methane gas are among alternative sources of environmentally-friendly electricity.
   Green Power Switch is the Tennessee Valley Authority's (TVA) own version of the Environmental Protection Agency's Green Power program, a national program designed for customers of the Tennessee Valley area to reduce the environmental impact of electrical generation by promoting renewable energy.
   Dugger believes the Green Power Switch program is "extremely important" to the future of Tennessee's environment because every customer who enrolls in the program, Dugger said, is helping Tennessee become a more beautiful state.
   "It's only helping the future of the state of Tennessee," Dugger said. "It's going to make it cleaner and greener for them to raise their families and a whole lot better for the communities they live in."
   Green Power Switch is sold to residential customers in 150 kilowatt-hour blocks, about 12 percent of the monthly usage of a typical household, according to Dugger.
   "Each block costs a residential customer four dollars," he said. "They can buy one block, or they can buy as many blocks as they wish. Each four-dollar block that they purchase is added onto their monthly electric bill. It's printed out on a separate line item on the bill under Green Power Switch."
   Commercial and industrial customers can also buy blocks of Green Power Switch. In their case, the amount of blocks they buy is based on the amount of their electrical usage. Smaller industrial customers must buy a minimum of at least five blocks. Larger industrial customers are required to buy a minimum of at least 25 blocks.
   Industrial customers are considered small if they use 50 kilowatt-hours or less electricity each month, Dugger said.
   When a customer purchases Green Power Switch, the "green power" is not routed directly to their home, but, rather, onto the overall TVA grid system.
   "That means everyone will receive portions of Green Power Switch," Dugger noted. "The more watts that are sold, and the more that goes onto the grid system, the more each individual residential customer will be receiving."
   The Green Power Switch program first came about, Dugger said, as a test market program for a few power distributors and was launched on Earth Day, April 22, 2000.
   Dugger sees a slow, steady growth for the Green Power Switch program.
   "Not every residential or commercial customer will be interested in participating. The main ones that do participate are those who are environmentally conscious of their surroundings and their community. They want to do something which will help make a positive impact on their local communities and sort of make their communities a cleaner and better place to live and raise their families," he said.
   Last year, 49 of TVA's 158 power distributors participated in the program. As of March 31 of this year, 61 power distributors have enrolled in the program.
   "TVA's goal by the year 2005, (is that) hopefully all 158 power distributors will participate; at least be a partner in the Green Power Switch Program to offer the program to their customers," Dugger said.
   By the end of March, 6,310 of TVA's residential customers had purchased 9,762 Green Power Switch blocks, and 318 commercial/industrial customers had purchased 20,707 blocks.
   EES began participating in the Green Power Switch program in April 2002. "The goal that TVA gave us was to have 100 residential customers and five commercial customers," Dugger said. "So far, we have 46 residential customers and two commercial or industrial customers. We're very happy to have Sycamore Shoals State Park and the Carter Mansion as our first two commercial/industrial customers. Hopefully, we will have some more that will want to participate."
   Herb Roberts, Sycamore Shoals State Park superintendent, said state parks and departments are especially responsible for setting an example of concern for the environment.
   "Sycamore Shoals State Historic Area and the Carter Mansion are components of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, and if any agency needs to set an example for others to follow in the realm of conservation, it is our department and the Division of State Parks," he said.
   Dugger emphasized that any commercial/industrial customer who signs up for Green Power gets to use Green Power Switch as a marketing tool. All Green Power Switch customers also receive a free monthly Green Power Switch newsletter.
   For more information, visit www.greenpowerswitch.com or call 542-1100, ext. 330.