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Wind energy credits whistle up profits

Quayle Hodek is sitting on a gold mine of green power. He is the keeper of valuable "wind energy credits" for customers who want the electricity powering their homes and businesses to come from wind farms sprinkled across the nation.

His latest customer is ski giant Vail Resorts, which bought 152,000 megawatt hours of wind credits on Tuesday. It joins a growing list of customers, including many Fortune 500 companies.

Hodek is the founder and chief executive of Boulder-based Renewable Choice Energy, which he started six years ago.

Not bad for a 28-year-old University of Wisconsin dropout.

"We are as much of a marketing and sales company as an energy company," Hodek said. "When a home or a business buys wind energy credits from us, we ensure that a wind farm will add that much electricity to the grid for that customer."

Hodek honed his sales skills at Southwestern Publishing, where he won the best salesperson award among 3,000 co-workers for selling textbooks door-to-door.

So far, Hodek's venture seems to have paid off.

The privately held Renewable Choice Energy, with 20 employees, already has doubled its profits from a year ago. Hodek declined to reveal the company's revenue and profit figures.

Clients include Whole Foods, Toyota, Honda, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Disney, Johnson & Johnson, McDonald's and Sprint.

Vail's purchase this week became Hodek's second largest; the biggest is... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

His latest customer is ski giant Vail Resorts, which bought 152,000 megawatt hours of wind credits on Tuesday. It joins a growing list of customers, including many Fortune 500 companies.

Hodek is the founder and chief executive of Boulder-based Renewable Choice Energy, which he started six years ago.

Not bad for a 28-year-old University of Wisconsin dropout.

"We are as much of a marketing and sales company as an energy company," Hodek said. "When a home or a business buys wind energy credits from us, we ensure that a wind farm will add that much electricity to the grid for that customer."

Hodek honed his sales skills at Southwestern Publishing, where he won the best salesperson award among 3,000 co-workers for selling textbooks door-to-door.

So far, Hodek's venture seems to have paid off.

The privately held Renewable Choice Energy, with 20 employees, already has doubled its profits from a year ago. Hodek declined to reveal the company's revenue and profit figures.

Clients include Whole Foods, Toyota, Honda, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Disney, Johnson & Johnson, McDonald's and Sprint.

Vail's purchase this week became Hodek's second largest; the biggest is Whole Foods. The ski resort company bought enough credits to power 20,000 homes.

Renewable Choice also has thousands of residential customers.

Hodek's business model is simple.

His company buys renewable energy credits from about 10 wind farms in the Dakotas, Kansas, Minnesota and Wyoming.

The credits, say for a certain amount of electricity, are a sort of guarantee from the producers that they will put that amount of wind- generated electricity to the grid on the customer's behalf.

The company then sells those credits to customers, for a profit.

Green-e, a San Francisco-based company that runs the nation's leading certification program, verifies that no two credits represent the same electricity put on the grid.

Buying those credits is a voluntary decision by customers, and the payments are collected directly by Renewable Choice. That transaction doesn't impact the customer's bills from the local utility.

Since the purchase of credits is voluntary, Renewable Choice or other energy credit providers are not regulated by state utility commissions.

"We don't regulate the company. I don't know anybody that does," said Terry Bote, spokesman for the Colorado Public Utilities Commission, referring to Renewable Choice Energy. "The prices they charge customers are not regulated prices but market-based prices."

Renewable Choice charges a typical residential customer $15 a month for credits worth 750 kilowatt-hours - enough to serve a typical home's electricity needs for a month.

That is comparable to the price of Xcel Energy's Windsource program, in which residential customers can buy blocks of 200 kilowatt-hours of wind power by paying $4 extra on their bills per month.

The Windsource program, which is regulated by the PUC, has been fully subscribed with 60,000 customers since October last year, said Xcel spokesman Mark Stutz.

The program is backed by 60 megawatts of wind power. But it is not accepting new customers - a fact that is prompting customers to knock on the doors of companies such as Renewable Choice.

"We compete with utilities such as Xcel Energy that offer green power pricing to customers," Hodek says. "But it is pretty easy. We do a lot better planning than Xcel Energy does."

Hodek says his company, which has issued more than 1 billion kilowatt-hours of credits over the past six years, has enough wind power to back them up although he didn't reveal the numbers.

And that, Hodek says, explains the fact that Renewable Choice never turned away any willing customer in the past six years.

"We saw a huge gap in the market between producers of wind energy and individual buyers of wind energy, such as companies or homeowners," Hodek said. "We knew we could connect the two effectively and communicate a million times better than a monopoly fossil-fuel utility ever would."

What is a wind credit?

• Residents or businesses that buy wind credits aren't necesarily powered by wind. They buy the equivalent amount of their energy needs in wind power credits from a company that buys wind power from producers - mainly in Minnesota, Kansas, the Dakotas and Wyoming - and inject the amount of power the residents or businesses use into the national electric grid.

Renewable Choice Energy's customers

• Whole Foods, Toyota, Honda, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Disney, Johnson & Johnson, McDonald's, Sprint, Interface Carpets, CH2M Hill, Warner Bros. Entertainment, Fannie Mae and Boston Scientific, among others.

chakrabartyg@RockyMountainNews.com or 303-892-2976

 


Source: http://www.rockymountainnew...

AUG 3 2006
http://www.windaction.org/posts/3779-wind-energy-credits-whistle-up-profits
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