Green Data Center Bill Is Just More “Greenwashing”

CascadeNewLogoBy William Newell

In February, the Oregon Legislature passed House Bill 4126. This bill would allow utilities to purchase renewable energy certificates, or RECs, to meet Oregon’s renewable portfolio standards, rather than actually purchasing electricity produced by renewable sources.

The bill is simply “greenwashing.” “Greenwashing” is a tactic for companies, in this case large data centers, to burnish their environmental credentials without actually being any “greener.”

Many RECs are sold separately from renewable electricity and are meant to give energy producers extra income. While buying RECs allows purchasers to claim the use of renewable electricity, this notion is deeply flawed. The low price of the certificates (one to five dollars) prevents such commodities from realistically encouraging an increase in renewable energy production. RECs alone are not the reason renewable energy is generated or new plants are built. It is simply selling the right to claim that your electricity is renewable. Not only that, but RECs generally support solar and wind energy, which can negatively impact grid reliability, other generation sources, and the environment. Oregon-based Nike backed off from purchasing RECs because of their controversial nature.

The Legislature needs to alter course to avoid costing ratepayers boatloads of money with little actual return. It is time to stop the forced subsidization of energy sources that do more harm than good to our electric grid and our environment.

William Newell is a research associate at Cascade Policy Institute, Oregon’s free market public policy research organization. He is a graduate of Willamette University.

Learn more at

Post to Twitter Post to Facebook Post to LinkedIn Post to Reddit

Posted by at 05:00 | Posted in Energy | Tagged , , , | 14 Comments |Email This Post Email This Post |Print This Post Print This Post
  • Ballistic45

    What a “Dog and Pony” show.. Will the Shenanigans never stop… Talk about “Flim Flam”, “Hookahs Pocus” Bull Sheeeet…..

  • Gardenhomeboy

    Ironically, even Greenpeace agrees that RECs are status quo-oriented ie bogus.

  • stopcronycapitalism

    Face it. This bill was a scam to give Umatilla Electric Coop. a way out of having to meet the renewable energy standard in return for them withdrawing the initiative to require the legislature to call all our hydro generated electricity as “renewable”. The governor got Greg Smith to agree to turn on the thousands of people who had signed Initiative No. 3 in return for being able to say he did a big favor for Umatilla Electric Coop’s 10,000 customers. Greg lied to the people who were circulating the petition when he said that his negotiations would not result in withdrawal of the petition. We will be back again for the next election cycle and give the 70% of Oregonians who believe hydro power should be counted as renewable a chance to vote on it.

  • Jack Lord God

    REC’s seem to fulfill the underlying purpose of Green Welfare programs – the transfer of money from the citizen to well connected cronies. In that regard I see little difference between them and ethanol, windmills or what have you. REC’s accomplish that wealth transfer without the eyesore of dopey windmills and solar panels so what’s the problem here? Rate payers are further impoverished, cronies get their money, less eyesore in the immediate future and less crap to rip out once the fleecing has run its course. I say full steam ahead!

    • Gardenhomeboy

      I hope you are just being funny.

      • stopcronycapitalism

        There is nothing funny about forcing taxpayers to support industrial wind developments which are destroying our resources, killing animals and people (see story on plane crash that just killed four people).

        • Jack Lord God

          Correct, there is nothing funny about it. However our economy now is about little else other than pull. Unless we are going to get rid of Green Welfare in its entirety, then this is the next best thing, as REC’s avoid the blight you just mentioned.

      • Jack Lord God

        Actually I am being cynical. From Solyndra to subsidies for Tesla, all Green Welfare is about is transferring money from the average citizen to the well connected. It’s not about energy, it’s not about really solving anything, it’s about paying off fat cats. REC’s would accomplish all of this without the eyesore of wind farms, solar projects and the like. Sounds like win/win to me.

  • Moe

    Green is the only way to go. I recently traded my 2010 Yukon in on a hybrid vehicle. I am very proud of what I have done. I now get 33 miles to the gallon for the most part, rather than the 19 I used to get. I am helping and I matter.
    When I haul stuff I have to make two trips, but that is not every time.
    Anyway, I love the auto shutoff at the lights and how I can sneak up on people when the gas motor is not working. Pretty cool.
    My Sonata sings a nice song!!!
    And I am free as a bird as I drive past the gas stations.
    I just hope the batteries don’t catch fire.

    • Gardenhomeboy

      And this is relevant to the discussion how?

      • Moe

        Because, if we all do our part, like I have bravely done, then we won’t need green welfare. It is all about each of us accepting that we can and must help our mother, the earth.

Stay Tuned...

Stay up to date with the latest political news and commentary from Oregon Catalyst through daily email updates:

Prefer another subscription option? Subscribe to our RSS Feed, become a fan on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter.

Twitter Facebook

No Thanks (close this box)