Renewables should be ‘premium brand’
D. Wendal Attig's letter in the Feb. 21 Westside Pioneer (“Energy: Utilities must strike balance”) is more about command and control and mandating increased charges to ratepayers for higher cost renewable energy sources than striking balance. Attig incorrectly argues that “whatever the cost differential [he means cost increase], it must be spread across the entire, benefiting customer base to remain cost-effective.” He asserts that renewable energy sources for electricity (which cost approximately two times that provided by coal fired facilities) somehow become cost-effective by spreading the cost increase over all ratepayers. Using Attig's logic, the taxpayers of Colorado Springs could pay double the cost for the new Cimarron bridge and still consider it cost effective if more taxpayers shared the bill.
Austin Energy of Austin, Texas, offers its customers a creative and market-based approach for those that want to include electricity provided by renewable sources in their energy mix. Austin Energy's “GreenChoice” program offers subscriptions to customers that sign up and replace their regular fuel charge with a more costly green power charge. The company offers new subscriptions as new supplies of wind-generated electricity become available. Customer choice is the key. Rather than force customers to pay increased rates for renewable energy, it offers the option as a premium brand.