Customers will have a choice in who they pay for electricity if an electric company that uses 100% renewable energy competes with Tucson Electric Power and Arizona Public Service Company. Green Mountain Energy Company is a division of NRG Energy Inc., situated in Princeton, New Jersey. The Arizona Corporation Commission has approved the company’s proposal to service businesses and homes in the TEP and APS areas.
Customers now have no choice in who supplies their electricity since Arizona lacks a functioning competitive market, yet Green Mountain claims the law permits it. The company claimed in its application, “Approval of this implementation is in the interest of the public since it will lead in additional options for clients and broaden the supply of renewable power in Arizona.” “In fact, if the commission approves this application, Arizonans will be free to choose not only their electricity supplier but also the type of production they receive. Green Mountain is particularly qualified to provide Arizonans these new options.”
If Green Mountain receives what it wants, the application is expected to face pushback from the big companies, initially at the Corporation Commission, then in court. Previous attempts to provide competitive service in Arizona have failed. Still, the new implementation relies on a ruling by the Arizona Supreme Court last year to argue that regulators must authorize its request. Electric retail competition and utility deregulation have long been opposed by Arizona’s big electric corporations.
In addition to Pennsylvania and Texas, Green Mountain has operations in seven other states. It has four licenses but does not operate in any of them. In discussion with The Arizona Republic, Mark Parsons, general manager and vice president of Green Mountain Energy, said, “Our goal statement is to alter the way power is made.” “We feel that giving customers options is the best way to achieve it, and Arizona is a terrific place for us to accomplish that.” Customers, according to corporate research, want a rival for their local utility.
“We did some polling in the state, and the overwhelming reaction we got was that people want a choice, and they desire renewable energy,” Parsons added. According to the company’s application, it aims to have 20,000 clients in five years. He said that Green Mountain does not own any power plants and instead buys sustainable power and renewable-energy credits from third parties, including power plants possessed by the parent firm, NRG.
Power from other facilities would be used in Arizona’s aim for 100 percent renewable energy. Because electrons cannot be separated once on the electrical grid, not every electron a consumer uses in their residence under the Green Mountain program would come from a sustainable energy plant.
Instead, Green Mountain would employ renewable-energy certificates (RECs) to assure that every unit of energy consumed by customers was linked to a renewable energy unit produced at a solar, wind, or another alternative-energy facility.