Carbon attributes discussed at Grant County PUD meeting

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EPHRATA — Grant County PUD will add to the options for customers who want to certify their energy use as renewable, or as carbon-neutral.

The new options are voluntary.

The new rate classes were reviewed at the regular meeting of PUD commissioners Tuesday.

A rate class already exists for customers who want renewable or carbon-neutral certification, although nobody is using it now, said Jeremy Nolan, PUD financial planning analyst. Some customers have used it in the past, and others have been asking about lately, Nolan said.

Nolan said six customers are interested in the program, and another six have been contacted. It’s not a lot of customers, but they’re among the PUD’s big power users, he said.

A rate class for energy certification is required by state law. A proposed revision would drop the rate for that class, Class 13, from $2 per kilowatt hour to 75 cents per kilowatt hour, but customers will be required to buy megawatt hour blocks. The revised cost would be $7.50 per megawatt hour.

In answer to a question from commissioner Dale Walker, Nolan said those charges are in addition to any charges for electricity. In answer to a question from commissioner Tom Flint, Nolan said the program doesn’t affect the PUD’s obligations under state law.

Two new rate options will be added, one that will allow customers to buy “renewable energy certificates” and one that will allow the power they use to be allocated to a specific source.

“We’ve had a number of customers who have come to us and talked about environmental attributes,” Nolan said. Many are companies that do business nationally and internationally, and are facing questions about their energy use from customers, governments or groups around the nation or the world.

“A renewable energy credit represents the non-electricity, renewable attributes of one megawatt hour of renewable energy generation, including all the environmental attributes,” according to information presented at the commission meeting. The certificate is “a tradable commodity that can be sold separately from the underlying electricity.”

The “specified source” option allows customers to certify the electricity generated was from a source that didn’t generate carbon, like hydropower, wind or solar power.

Cheryl Schweitzer can be reached via email at education@columbiabasinherald.com.

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