Al Gore has claimed (through a spokesman) that he offsets 100% of his Tennessee mansion’s electricity bill by purchasing renewables through a green power program. Upon reviewing the figures, this seems unlikely. Either Gore’s spokesperson is lying, or the AP has made a significant error in their reporting about Gore’s power usage.
According to the AP (not the conservative think tank that originally broke this story), Gore’s electricity bill averaged $1200 a month last year, while using 191,000 kilowatt-hours. (Compared to an average Nashville household usage of 15,600 kwh.) That comes to $14,400 in electricity expenses, which is around 7.5 cents a kilowatt-hour.
So I tooled over to the Nashville Electric Service, Al’s power company. Al (says he) subscribes to “Green Power Switch“, the renewable option offered by NES. (Seems like a good program, btw.) Green Power Switch will sell you 150 kilowatt-hour blocks of power for an extra $4 charge – adding 2.67 cents per kwh to the ordinary 7.38 cents that NES charges residential customers. That’s 10.05 cents per kilowatt-hour.
But the figures from Gore’s power bill, reported by the AP, show Gore paying about 7.5 cents a kilowatt-hour – pretty much exactly what he’d be paying if he bought his juice from the big coal-fired plant up the road. Something doesn’t add up, here.
Either Gore is not, in fact, buying green power, or the AP has badly misreported his power usage over the last year, or perhaps there are special sweetheart deals available for “residential” customers who order enough juice to light up Versailles. Or – and please forgive the cynicism – Gore is buying a teeny weeny bit of green power – perhaps enough to account for the 0.12 cents per kwh disparity in the posted rate and his actual bill – and the rest of his “green power” offset is coming in the form of “investments” in various renewable energy companies. Which is all well and good, of course, but which is a far cry from having all your power be renewable, which is apparently the claim being made.
(H/T to Charles, whose criticism of my criticism spurred me to investigate further and unearth this.)
(Update: According to this article in the Tennessean, Gore did buy green power in the last three months, enough to cover his average monthly use. At a guess, I’d say he didn’t buy any green power last year, but started recently. So, tentatively, never mind. Thanks to Trailhead at Alas for finding this one.)