By Doug Luciani and Hans Voss
Reliable energy sources are critical to any community’s sustainability and economic growth. For regions like Northwest Michigan where a healthy environment is a linchpin to success, the source of that power is equally important.
Traverse City Light & Power is taking a huge step forward for the community’s environmental well-being with its new Voluntary Green Pricing Program. It allows residential and commercial TCLP customers to voluntarily choose increments of 25, 50, 75 or 100 percent of their electric consumption from renewable energy sources like wind and solar for a modest surcharge of $.0085 cents per kilowatt hour. Customers can also step out of the program at any time. The green rate will be adjusted every two years or based on TCLP purchase agreements from renewable energy sources.
This is a major advancement in environmental stewardship on several fronts. It offers residents and business owners an opportunity to make a personal investment in reaction to climate change by committing their own resources to renewable energy sources. For customers who may not have the land or means to invest in renewable energy technology, it’s a way to take action to support clean energy.
Premiums from the green pricing program will be dedicated to future investment in local renewable power by TCLP. That creates the potential for reliable, local energy sources that are more protected from price volatility and possible supply disruptions in the national and international energy markets. Locally generated power also keeps the money from power generation circulating in our community, and offers the possibility of construction jobs and other related employment.
From the perspective of the Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce, green pricing strongly aligns with its energy policy adopted in 2008 and re-affirmed in 2011. The policy calls for bolstering our region’s energy conservation and efficiency efforts, and rebalancing energy portfolios to include additional sources of renewable energy. The Chamber policy also calls for being a “change agent,” recognizing that energy generation is “inter-connected to the economic, social and ecological health of local communities.” Green pricing allows all TCLP customers to act as “change agents” in securing safer, healthier and sustainable sources of power.
The green rate aligns well with Groundwork’s effort to expand solar energy in Traverse City and the surrounding area. Groundwork has a vision of helping our region emerge as a national leader in clean energy production—and it’s exactly the kind of innovative leadership that TCLP is showing with the green rate that makes that future possible.