Vermont citizens filed this petition with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to investigate deceptive trade practices of Green Mountain Power (GMP), a Vermont utility. The complaint focuses on GMP marketing of renewable energy to Vermont consumers. The petition was filed by the Environmental and Natural Resources Law Clinic at Vermont Law School.
The petition documents that, pursuant to Vermont’s Sustainably Priced Energy Enterprise Development (SPEED) law, GMP has represented to its customers and to the public that it provides electricity from renewable sources, thereby reducing the customer’s carbon footprint and protecting the environment. In fact, the petition states, GMP both counts the Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) generated by these sources against Vermont’s renewable energy goals while also substantially selling all of these RECs to out-of- state utilities, who in turn count them against their mandatory Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS). The result of this double-counting is that Vermont customers are misled into thinking that they are buying “renewable energy,” when in fact they are getting “null” electricity consisting of a mix of fossil fuel, nuclear, gas and other “brown” sources of electricity from the regional grid.
The petitioners seek a determination that this practice is deceptive, pursuant to the common-sense rule that if one sells the credit, one cannot claim the credit. Further, the petitioners have put forth a three-part plan to fix Vermont’s renewable energy laws so that the State truly advances renewable energy.
The introduction of the FTC petition is provided below. The full petition can be accessed by clicking the link(s) on this page.
Pursuant to section 5 (a) of the Federal Trade Commission Act (FTCA), 15 U.S.C. § 45, Bruce Post, Curt McCormack, Charles Johnson and Kevin Jones (“Petitioners”) request that the Federal Trade Commission (“Commission”) initiate an investigation and take appropriate enforcement action in relation to certain deceptive trade practices by Green Mountain Power Corporation (“GMP”) that, as described more fully below, are misleading and harming Vermont electricity consumers.
GMP is representing to its customers and to the public, through its promotional materials, public statements, and other communications that it is providing its customers with electricity from renewable sources such as commercial wind and solar projects, thereby reducing the customer’s carbon footprint and protecting the environment. In fact, however, GMP is selling substantially all of the Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) generated by these sources to out of state utilities in satisfaction of those utilities legal obligations to meet mandatory Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) in nearby states such as Massachusetts and Connecticut. The net result is that Vermont customers are being misled into thinking that they are buying “renewable energy,” when in fact what they are getting is “null” electricity consisting of a mix of fossil fuel, nuclear, gas and other “brown” sources of electricity from the regional grid.
Petitioner seeks a determination that this practice is deceptive. The common-sense rule is that if you sell the credit you cannot claim the credit. The only way that GMP can honestly claim that its electricity is renewable is to retire the RECs.