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green@work : Magazine : Back Issues : Sept / Oct 2003 : Special Section : What's Green-E? / Put the Power Where it's Needed

Whats Green-E?

Green-e is a voluntary certification program for renewable electricity products. It sets consumer protection and environmental standards for electricity products, and verifies that Green-e certified products meet these standards. Green-e provides an easy way for consumers to quickly identify environmentally superior electricity products in competitive markets—electricity products that meet the Green-e standard for environmental
excellence are denoted by the Green-e logo.

The program requires that electricity providers disclose information about their product to their customers in a standardized format. This enables consumers to make informed purchasing decisions and helps to build consumer confidence in retail renewable electricity products. Through these efforts, the Green-e Program hopes to expand the retail market for renewable electricity products and for power from cleaner non-renewable generation.

In each state where Green-e is active, the Green-e Program works with diverse stakeholders to form regional advisory committees that ensure that the consumer
protection and environmental standards of the Green-e Program work for their regions.

When the Green-e logo is displayed next to an electricity product, the product must meet the following requirements:

* 50 percent or more of the electricity supply comes from one or more of these eligible renewable resources: solar electric, wind, geothermal, biomass, and small or certified low-impact hydro facilities,
* if a portion of the electricity is non-renewable, the air emissions are equal to or lower than those produced by conventional electricity,
* there are no specific purchases of nuclear power, and
* the product meets the Green-e new renewable requirement.

Put the Power Where it's Needed

The U.S. Fuel Cell Council (USFCC) points to August’s blackout across Northeastern states and parts of Canada as evidence that the power grid is poorly equipped for getting power from where there is surplus to where it is needed. The solution, says the council, is not to build more transmission lines, but rather lies in an alternative: distributed power generation.

The first step, says the USFCC, is to create an environment for distributed resources to flourish. An example of how to move forward can be seen in a recently-published standard to guide interconnecting distributed generation technologies to the grid. The USFCC, which participated in the writing of the standard, has sent a letter urging governors to adopt the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers’ “IEEE 1547 Standard for Interconnecting Distributed Resources With Electric Power Systems.” This standard addresses the performance, operation, testing and safety of interconnection products and services.

Distributed generation technologies—including fuel cells, renewables, microturbines and other ancillary services—can be located closer to where the power is needed, reducing traffic on the already “grid-locked” superhighways of the electrical distribution system. Distributed generation technologies can help states begin to address the challenge of satisfying electrical demand for such critical loads by providing flexibility in siting these technologies where they do not require additional high voltage transmission lines. Newspapers reported that fuel cells kept the lights on for offices, households and the Central Park Police Precinct during the blackouts.

Since 1999, more than 350 individuals participated in the working group that formulated the IEEE 1547 standard, which can now be used in legislation and rulemaking, and by utilities in developing technical requirements for interconnection agreements. Members of the working group included those from manufacturers of electrical components, fuel cells, photovoltaics, gas turbines, and diesel generators, as well as those from utilities, government laboratories, and state and federal governments.

“Passage of IEEE 1547 shows what can happen when the industry pulls together for the common good,” said Robert Wichert, technical director for the USFCC and participant on the IEEE 1547 working group. “This will have a significant effect on not only the fuel cell industry, but other distributed generation technologies, and the stability of our country’s electric grid.”

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