- An Iowa electric cooperative plans to begin investing in enough renewable energy credits this year to fully offset its use of power generated from fossil fuels, Midwest Energy News reports.
- The Raccoon Valley Electric Cooperative currently obtains about 10% of its power from nuclear and hydropower and plans to purchase renewable energy credits (RECs) to equal the 90% of its power supply that comes from coal, gas and wind power. The co-op is not counting the wind energy because the RECs it generates are already being sold.
- At the end of the year, the co-op will assess its strategy and decide whether to pursue the policy again next year.
In many states, electric cooperatives are exempt from renewable portfolio standards that mandate a defined level of renewable energy purchases. Nonetheless, more than 90% of the rural electric cooperatives in the United States provide electricity generated from renewable resources, according to National Rural Electric Cooperative Association. But the Racoon Valley co-op in Glidden, Iowa, has taken its commitment to renewable power a step further. The co-op plans to buy enough RECs to offset its use of fossil fuels.
“We want to support renewable energy, and we want to act in a responsible way,” Jim Bagley, the co-op’s CEO, said in a statement. He said that many of the co-op's roughly 2,700 customers expressed a desire to shrink their carbon footprint.
Racoon Valley is developing five 150-kkW solar arrays that are slated to come online by 2018, but it was looking to reduce its carbon footprint more quickly.
Bagley told Midwest Energy News that purchasing credits from his suppliers serves to put more renewables into the co-op’s generation mix.
The purchase of RECs generally helps support renewable resources, but that is particularly true of buying RECs from projects under development that are being financed. For those projects, the income from selling RECs “is an additional revenue stream and makes these projects more financeable,” said Noah Long, a senior attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council and director of their western energy project.
But "the devil is in the details. The REC market does make a meaningful difference in terms of supporting the renewables market. But I don't want to paint it as panacea for renewables. It depends on the kinds of renewables a company is seeking, and the kind of RECs they've purchased," he told the news outlet.