Talking green in Boston, acting brown in California . . .

Seth Kaplan

Incredibly, Boston-based energy management company EnerNOC, a company that likes to pitch itself as “green”, has convinced  the California Public Utilities Commission to approve a program that uses diesel generators to supply “peak power” to Sempra, the electric utility serving the San Diego area.  SNL, an energy and financial trade press website, reported the decision this way:

California narrowly approves diesel generators contract for demand-side management
October 15, 2009 5:11 PM ET
By Jeff Stanfield

In a rare 3-2 vote, the California Public Utilities Commission on Oct. 15 approved San Diego Gas & Electric Co.’s contract with Celerity Energy Partners, an EnerNOC Inc. company that aggregates distributed generation resources, with dissenting commissioners arguing that the decision threatens a core state energy policy.

The commissioners fell out over whether 45 MW of small diesel backup generators should be included at the top of the state’s loading order, which emphasizes energy efficiency and demand response as the first choice for meeting electricity needs.

. . . PUC President Michael Peevey and Commissioner Dian Grueneich argued that approval of the contract would be counter to the state’s energy policies.

“It would put diesels on top of demand response,” Peevey said. “Demand response is on top of the loading order, and this would flip [the energy resource preference policy] on its head. Placing diesel first is inconsistent with the state’s energy and environmental policies.”

For full story, including how the diesel generators that will be part of the program will install pollution control equipment (which they should do anyway but incredibly is not required for all diesel generators) and the justification for the decision as replacing new conventional power plants  click here

A staff “Administrative Law Judge” had recommended rejection of the contract. It is interesting to note that the 3-2 vote went the way it did, overriding that recommendation, because one Commissioner (in fact the one who proposed overriding the staff) phoned in his vote from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington.

Sadly, EnerNOC is polluting both the environment and its image when it gets involved in deploying diesel generators for peak electricity generation at the very times, and in the very places, when local populations are most vulnerable to air pollution.

Much of EnerNOC’s other technologies and actions help to reduce pollution and build a green economy – but deploying diesel generators that spew large quantities of greenhouse gas pollution, as well as conventional emissions, pulls in exactly the wrong direction. The investors who are buying into EnerNOC because they think it is a “green” company that is rising with that tide should be outraged by this project and action.

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