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Published on February 12, 2003
Author:    DAVID ROBINSON - News Business Reporter
© The Buffalo News Inc.

The Energy Cooperative of New York is going green.

The not-for-profit Buffalo energy services firm is offering its customers the option of buying an environmentally-friendly mix of electricity generated from wind and biomass sources. Like all so-called "green power" programs, consumers can expect to pay slightly more for electricity generated from pollution-reducing sources. The energy co-op estimates that a typical residential customer will pay between 5 cents and 15 cents a day extra for green power.

The co-op, with financial help from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, is the first energy services company in the Niagara Mohawk service territory to offer a green power option to its customers.

"We're the only one combining the cost advantages of deregulations with the environmental advantages of renewable energy," said Derek Bateman, a co-op spokesman. "The result is by far the most cost effective renewable program being offered in the Niagara Mohawk territory."

The co-op estimates that the additional cost of the green power, which runs about 1.1 cents per kilowatt hour extra, will add about $3.10 to a typical monthly bill of a customer using 600 kilowatts of power each month, compared with conventional utility service.

Niagara Mohawk customers also have a choice of three green power options that will add an estimated $6.50 to $7.50 to the typical monthly bill of a residential customer using 500 kilowatts of electricity.

The co-op's green power program will get 80 percent of its power from biomass generators, which use landfill gas to generate electricity, and the remaining 20 percent from wind power.

The idea behind green power programs is to stimulate the demand for renewable energy sources, which state regulators hope will encourage the development of additional wind, solar and hydroelectric power plants in New York.

Those renewable energy power plants, however, often can not compete on price with conventional methods of generating electricity, including power plants powered by coal, natural gas or nuclear energy. As a result, green power programs are being marketed as a way for consumers to pay a little extra to help the environment by reducing the demand for the more polluting sources of electricity.



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