We get it. Renewable energy and carbon offsets are not the easiest things to grasp. Because these are not tangible products, it’s hard for our customers to know if they are really getting the high-quality renewable energy and offsets we’ve promised them. To provide some assurance, we have an independent auditor look under our hood each year to show our customers what they’re getting and offer third-party certification options.
Voluntary Product Portfolio Audit
Each year we hire a third-party auditor to look at our full product portfolio, including:
- Green-e Energy® certified renewable energy certificates (RECs) that we use to provide Green Mountain customers and our utility partner customers with cleaner electricity
- Green-e Energy certified RECs that we sell to customers separate from their electricity
- Climate Action Reserve certified carbon offsets that we sell to customers to zero out their carbon footprint
The auditor (who also happens to be a Green-e approved, peer-reviewed certified public accountant):
- Tracks all of our REC and carbon offset purchases through the chain of ownership back to the renewable energy or carbon offset project owner, ensuring that no double claiming of the RECs or offsets has occurred. (And, yes, we thoroughly vet all of the renewable energy and offset projects we buy from ahead of time. Learn more.)
- Confirms that the appropriate number and type of RECs and offsets are purchased and retired on behalf of our customers so that they cannot be reused, nor the environmental benefits (e.g., emissions avoided) claimed, by anyone else.
- Ensures that all applicable1 RECs align with Green-e requirements as outlined in the Green-e Energy National Standard and all of our offsets are Climate Action Reserve certified.2
Our annual audit is no small feat – we put in hundreds of hours to responsibly track and manage our REC and offset supply to ensure it is appropriately allocated to our customers and to provide all the necessary documentation to our auditor. And that doesn’t even include the countless hours our auditor puts in!
All that work is worth it to show our customers the great emissions-free benefits they are getting. The most recent audit report for 2013 sales can be found here. The report shows that our 2013 REC and offset retirements met or exceeded our obligations for the year.
Our commercial customers have the option to choose Green-e Energy certified renewable energy products. Green-e Energy is the nation’s leading voluntary certification program for renewable energy. While not all of our cleaner electricity products are certified, all of our products are audited by a third-party each year, making our products 100% third-party verified.
Curious what it means to be Green-e certified? Find out.
For our carbon offset products, Green Mountain exclusively offers carbon offsets that are certified to one of the leading carbon offset standards, including the Climate Action Reserve and others. These standards provide assurance that our offsets meet high quality standards, including:
- Real: Emissions reductions have actually occurred
- Permanent: Emissions reductions won’t be reversed in the future
- Verifiable: Emissions reductions can be verified by an independent third party
- Enforceable: Ownership can be clearly defined and enforced
- Additional: Emissions reductions go beyond a “business as usual” scenario and what’s required by law
Numerous electronic registries exist to support the standards listed above, and Green Mountain holds accounts on several to transact in the most transparent and verifiable way possible.
1 RECs from hydropower facilities from which we purchase do not qualify for Green-e due to their older age. To be Green-e Energy certified, RECs must come from qualifying renewable energy facilities that came online within the past 15 years. Most U.S. hydro projects were completed decades ago.
2 We offer carbon offsets certified to other third-party standards, but we primarily use the Climate Action Reserve.