Overview of Green-e Certification Benefits and Processes for Businesses
In recent years, the use of green, renewable energy is becoming an important consideration for a growing percentage of businesses. However, customers who want the positive visibility that can come from “going green” also need the assurance that their power is clearly linked to sun, wind or water energy sources.
Since 1997, the Green-e Energy program has provided a framework that certifies renewable energy generation and use, verified by a careful chain-of-custody verification process that weeds out any “brown energy” generated by coal, waste or other carbon-based fuel sources. Nick Fusca, CPA, a senior manager in Hein’s Orange County office, offers a closer look at this Green-e auditing process.
What Does it Mean to be Green-e Certified?
The Green-e Energy certification program, administered by the Center for Resource Solutions in San Francisco, Calif., is the nation’s leading independent certification and verification program for renewable energy products. For businesses, a Green-e certification provides a strong marketing advantage, through which they can showcase not only their level of commitment, but also key renewable use and carbon offset activities.
What Does Green-e Certification Guarantee?
The Green-e certification ensures that all electricity purchased by a business comes from qualified renewable resources, and not from carbon- or nuclear-generated power plants. To validate this claim, all companies seeking this certification must complete a comprehensive application process, which includes worksheets and guidance documents for getting started with a renewable energy program. Once companies earn a Green-e certification, they must agree to undergo an annual Verification Process Audit, which validates all renewable energy procurements (or sales). In addition, certified companies must also participate in a semi-annual Marketing Compliance Review to ensure they are making true and accurate claims regarding the use of renewable power.
Which Energy Resources are Eligible to be Green-e Certified?
Eligible resource types include wind, solar, and geothermal, as well as some forms of hydropower and biomass.
What is a Renewable Energy Certificate (REC)?
Due to the mass generation nature of electricity production and distribution, customers who desire green energy in their home or business can’t simply run a line to the nearest wind or solar farm. However, the solution to that dilemma is Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs), which are a simple, reliable means through which customers can verify they are purchasing green energy.
It works like this: Renewable energy generators create one REC for every megawatt hour of electricity they produce and place on the grid. When business or individual customers purchase these RECs, they can claim renewable energy usage simply by reconciling the number of certificates with their electricity usage. So, if a small business uses an average of 10 megawatts of electricity per month, it would need to purchase 10 RECs each month to demonstrate 100 percent green energy usage.
Please contact us for more information on green energy audits, or other alternative energy and business accounting issues.
February 16, 2017