OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Nebraska's largest utility is offering customers the chance to pay more to support renewable energy, but the money won't be earmarked for green power and the utility doesn't plan to change where it gets its electricity.
The Nebraska Public Power District announced the voluntary program Wednesday. Starting next year, customers will be able to pay a fee to support renewable energy.
Spokesman Mark Becker said customers urged the utility to adopt a rate program like this.
"Some people say they want to be green, and this is one way they can do that," Becker said.
But it's not clear exactly how this rate program would make customers more "green." The source of their electricity won't change, and Becker said the money will go into NPPD's general budget, where it may or may not be used for renewable energy.
And NPPD is sticking to its overall goal of generating 10 percent of its electricity with renewable energy, primarily wind, by 2020.
Ken Winston, the Nebraska Sierra Club's policy advocate, said he'd prefer to see NPPD invest in generating more renewable energy. And Winston said he's concerned that the surcharge sends a message that renewable power is more expensive.
"We'd like to see something that really changes the energy mix, as opposed to something that just changes the customer's bill," Winston said.
Utility customers who sign up for NPPD's program will pay the green energy surcharge on top of their regular bill, and they can decide how big of a surcharge they want to pay.
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