Image source: Public Utilities Commission of Ohio
Many cities and states have a green energy option on their electric bills where consumers can pay a few more dollars and know that their money is going to support renewable energy applications. Residents in Georgia (US) aren't buying it, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. In fact, less than 1% of the state is participating in Georgia Power's Green Energy Program, thats 1/10 of the national average for similar programs. Most feel that the additional $4.50 they would have to pay is too much compared with what they actually receive. Georgia Power only gets 1% of its electricity from renewable sources, most of which comes from landfills.
In a survey conducted in 2003, before the start of the program, 35% of respondents said they would pay up to $5 more for green energy. So why the poor results? One reason: the Georgia program is one of the most expensive in the nation, particularly on top of already rising energy costs. Oddly enough, most of the renewable energy comes from the cheapest sources. Another problem: Most people don't know the problem exists. Third reason: The recent dismantling of Florida's Sunshine Energy after investigations determined that 3/4 of the money was used for salaries and marketing materials left neighboring states skeptical. Most of the toughest critics are environmentalists who see the program as not much more than greenwashing. So what can be done?One option: pass federal mandates that require utilities to generate a certain percentage of their energy from renewable sources. Another option: Diversity renewable energy sources. Residents would pay more for the fancy wind turbines or solar panels but don't want to pay more for landfill gas, which is perceived as a less than high end technology.
Currently Georgia Power plans to expand the landfill gas program and convert a coal plant to a wood burning plant. There are also plans to create a tiered green power purchasing plan where residents pay less for landfill methane gas. The closest residents will come at this time is a proposal by one energy company to develop off-shore wind, but developments have been slow.