Pickpocketing the Public: Part 1

The "renewable energy" program you're chipping in for spews the same old pollutants

Green Mountain's deal with FPL allows the company to buy renewable energy from outside the state if it can't find enough within Florida. The result may be that the power it buys will never come close to Florida consumers. Rose responds that the program isn't about getting the power directly to FPL customers but simply increasing the amount of renewable energy put onto the national grid.

When asked about Green Mountain's checkered past, FPL's Davis says her company reviewed the records of other renewable-energy providers and determined that Green Mountain was the best at it. "Green Mountain has the experience," Davis says, "to do what we need them to do."

Adding to the widespread skepticism about the program, though, has been the FPL's secrecy. The power company refuses to reveal the sources of the power it provides or the methods used in converting wood waste to energy, suggesting that the information is proprietary.

"Make no mistake, there's stuff put out in everything you burn," says Peter Frederick, a professor at University of Florida's Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation. Smokestack cleaners can remove many pollutants from wood pulp, he says, but, because of FPL's secrecy, it's unclear whether plants that supply FPL use cleaners.

Rose, the program's manager, would acknowledge only that the wood waste plant is located in Georgia. "What I cansay is that Green Mountain has done an admirable job."

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