Creative Destruction

February 28, 2007

Is Gore’s Electricity 100% Green?

Filed under: Environment — Robert @ 10:34 pm

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.)


  1. nice work — this evidence of Gore’s hypocrisy and the people defending him are making me ill.

    Comment by st4rbux — March 3, 2007 @ 11:29 pm | Reply

  2. I still think the guess that He was buying green power all along, but that the person at the Tennesseean totaled his electricity charge and reported that, not his electricity charge plus the green power surcharge, is more likely, even though it doesn’t provide satisfaction to folks like st4rbux.

    Comment by Charles S — March 3, 2007 @ 11:41 pm | Reply

  3. Even if he were buying Green electricity the quantity of electricity he’s using is obscene.

    Conservation and environmentalism is no only based upon the use of green sources of energy but primarily about the reduction of excessive energy use.

    Comment by Ugarit — March 5, 2007 @ 10:32 pm | Reply

  4. Why doesn’t somebody find out when green switch became available? Gore signed up in november. If it was available all year, that’s the story.

    Comment by Yo — March 7, 2007 @ 4:02 pm | Reply

  5. First off I have a hard time believing any house can use that much power. Seriously think of what they are saying. I know it’s a big house but unless you are running every powered device around the clock it’s going to be extremely difficult to hit those numbers. I also took a look at the group that broke the story and to be honest there’s something not quite right there either. Is Gore really offsetting that much carbon, to be honest it’s difficult to see. Either way it doesn’t matter. The whole arguement over energy consumption has to get away from fingerpointing and political wrangling. Keep in mind that politicans have too many loyalties to other “interest parties” with their own agendas to feed the public the straight dope. As a nation we have to get away from the idea that this should be a decision made based on your political affilitaion and really one made on your feelings on what is right for our future. I could really care less what Gore or Bush have to say on the matter. Bush is an ex oil exec and in mind has too many old ties in that area and Gore pans a good story but I don’t know that he’s backing it up. That said when 90% of the worlds experts say we’re in a status of climate change I listen a little. I think about small stupid things I can do. I recycle beer and wine bottles. I try to use ceramic cups and glasses rather than constantly using and disposing of styrofoam and plastic ones. I use energy saving bulbs where I can. I try to keep my power consumption reasonable. Between my wife and I we try to carpool and use public transportation as much as possible and for the most part usually only use one car. Like I said they are small stupid things but I hope they help a bit.

    Comment by BK — April 5, 2007 @ 3:32 pm | Reply

  6. I don’t think any one can claim to have 100% green electricity; does anyone here have it?

    Comment by Nick - Green Electricity — March 27, 2008 @ 10:58 am | Reply

  7. I agree with BK, who cares if Gore or anyone is following their own advice. All of us, to a degree, are hypocritical.

    As for the comment by Nick, I just switched over (last night) to the Nashville Electric Green Switch Program.

    For an extra $20/month that buys me 750kw/h / month which is very close to how much I use. So, provided NES is telling me the truth, and the electricity from the extra money I pay is ONLY coming from renewable sources, then I have as close to 100% green energy as most people can get.

    If this really works, then this is (in my opinion) THE best, fastest, lowest cost way to go green.


    Comment by Travis — May 2, 2008 @ 6:32 pm | Reply

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