Monday, February 22, 2010

Green Mountain Energy Offers Alternative for Brooklyn Customers

A grassroots approach isn’t generally something you would associate with big companies or with an energy provider.
But since Green Mountain Energy company — the leading provider of clean energy in the nation — launched in New York last summer, its employees have been using exactly such an approach, visiting greenmarkets and fairs, and educating potential customers.
Through a partnership with Con Edison, Green Mountain opened its New York service territory last August, becoming the only energy services company dedicated to clean power in the region, said John Holtz, director of East Region Markets. Started in Vermont, the company, is now headquartered in and serves Texas, as well as Oregon and New Jersey.
Holtz and Green Mountain’s other New York employees visit greenmarkets throughout the city, introducing the company to residents, and also educating them about the fact that they have a choice of who they can buy their electricity from. Many people don’t know they have a choice, Holtz noted.
Con Edison customers can simply visit or call toll free, (877) 216-GMEC (4632) to switch energy services companies. The bill will still come from Con Edison, but the electricity will come from Green Mountain.
In Brooklyn, Green Mountain has had a regular presence in the greenmarkets at Borough Hall, Grand Army Plaza and Fort Greene.
Greenmarkets “are a perfect place for us to be,” Holtz said, “because we’re selling a product, we’re selling a service, but we’re also selling a movement.”
Representatives — including a “Super Earth” mascot (pictured above) — set up a booth at September’s “Green Brooklyn … Green City” fair, hosted by the Council on the Environment of New York City, and Green Mountain will also co-sponsor this fall’s Atlantic Antic.
He explained that residential customers have the option between two electricity products: “Pollution Free” and “100% Wind.” The difference between the two is that the Pollution Free product delivers electricity made from local sources — 10 percent wind power from turbines upstate and 90 percent hydropower from small local dams. The 100% Wind product comes from wind turbines across the country: in Pennsylvania, Texas, Oklahoma and Oregon.
Purchasing Green Mountain Energy can have a substantial impact on the environment. According to data supplied by the company, an average New York City household using 100% Wind for one year can offset nearly 8,000 pounds of carbon dioxide. This is the equivalent of not taking 2,000-plus cab rides, or recycling almost 20,000 aluminum cans.
Holtz says that though purchasing electricity through Green Mountain is slightly more expensive than through an energy service company producing power from coal (approximately $10 more a month), he hasn’t encountered resistance. “I’m very pleased with the reception we’ve gotten here.”
Brooklyn has been especially enthusiastic: Green Mountain’s very first New York customer was a Park Slope resident. Convivium Osteria Restaurant in Park Slope purchased electricity through Green Mountain, as did the Sephardic Home for the Aged in Bensonhurst. Archstone, a leading developer of multi-family housing, purchased electricity for its 12 New York City properties, one in Brooklyn Heights.
“We wish we had started earlier,” said Michelle Pulixi, owner of Convivium Osteria. She said she started purchasing electricity from Green Mountain about a month ago. “We are an environmentally conscious business … we’re just doing it to have a clear conscience.”
“We have big hopes for New York,” said Holtz. “New Yorkers are very conscious of the environmental issue.”
Photo by Mary Frost

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