More Transparency Needed in Green Pricing Programs


A recent study by the HRC has revealed lack of transparency in green-pricing programs offered by utilities around the country.

In 2008, about 850 electric utilities, a quarter of the electric utilities in the United States, offered green-pricing programs and the trend is growing. However, participants in green-pricing programs, including utilities and marketers are reluctant to disclose information about hydropower projects that  are supported by these programs.

Green pricing is an optional service that allows customers an opportunity to support a greater level of utility company investment in renewable-energy technologies. Participating customers pay a premium on their electric bill to cover the incremental cost of the additional renewable energy.

In a recently published report, HRC concludes that- “fundamentally, the lack of transparency in green-pricing programs about specific hydropower plants goes against the grain of informed consumer choice, which is the hallmark of these programs.” The report continues to state that “the lack of transparency undermines the credibility of the utilities, the independent certifying agency, the REC brokers and REC marketers.”

HRC also recommends:

  • Customers should decline to participate in green-pricing programs that do not disclose the particular hydropower plants that are sourced.
  • All states require utilities to disclose the individual hydropower project sourced for voluntary green-pricing programs.


Read the summary and the full report produced by the HRC

Another study, also conducted by HRC, has found that a Feed-In Tariff (FIT) program can incentivize construction of new hydropower if the feed-in tariff is technology specific and is based on the cost of a particular facility and return on investment.

A Feed-In Tariff (FIT) is a policy designed to promote the deployment of renewable, electric-power projects by providing assurance to a power producer that a utility will purchase the power at a set price for a set time-period.

Read the report by HRC that looks at FIT provisions in various states and analyzes how they will impact development of hydropower.