TURN Wins New Green Energy Consumer Protections

Monday, Sept. 26, 2016, San Francisco–With Governor Jerry Brown’s signature on AB 1110 (Phil Ting, D-San Francisco) consumers concerned about the environment will be able to make more informed choices about the energy they purchase.  The legislation, sponsored by TURN, sets a new standard for consumer protection in the green energy market, one that all retail suppliers will have to include in their marketing and advertising materials.

Nutrition labels have long allowed for a comparison of packaged foods that may have hidden ingredients, but thus far there has been no similar way to easily compare the carbon content of energy sold as green. As a result, marketers can claim to be selling “zero carbon” power without backing up the claim.  AB 1110 aims to provide the information customers need to make more informed choices.

“Until now, consumers seeking to distinguish between truly green energy and greenwashing have not had simple ways to compare competing products,” said TURN staff attorney Matt Freedman.  AB 1110 requires the state’s existing Power Content Label to be expanded to include a standard measurement of greenhouse gas emissions for electricity sold to California consumers. This addition to the label is intended to ensure that customers have accurate information about how their energy purchases contribute to climate change through actual emissions of greenhouse gases in California and the rest of the West.

“Consumers are entitled to know what they’re buying,” said Freedman.  “But some “renewable energy” offers actually come from dirty fossil fuel that is marketed as “green” due to the separate purchase of renewable energy credits.  Consumers should not be fooled into thinking that the purchase of cheap tradable renewable energy credits and coal-fired electricity will reduce their carbon footprint.  With standard measurements and clear labeling, AB 1110 consumers will know exactly what they are buying and how their purchases impact their environment. We appreciate Governor Brown’s support for this worthy effort.”