UC Santa Cruz featured in report on green-energy credits

Energy news program focuses on student-led effort to seek sustainable renewable power on campus

From one alum to another: Pioneer Class member Eric Thiermann films energyNOW! correspondent Daniel Goldstein (Stevenson, '94) during the latter's report from UC Santa Cruz on renewable energy certificates. Goldstein poured a cup of green water into the pool to illustrate that although green power may enter the power grid at one end there is no way to ensure what one receives at the other end is still green power. (Photograph by Guy Lasnier)
Goldstein interviews UCSC environmental studies professor and chair Daniel Press who has written on renewable energy certificates.
Former student Chelsea McDaniel, center, now a staff member in the Sustainability Office, and student Cameron Fields tell Goldstein they never really knew what they were getting when they helped pay for renewable energy certificates to offset campus fossil-fuel power.

EnergyNow, an energy and environment news network based in Washington, D.C., selected UC Santa Cruz to feature in its investigation into green-energy credits.

The report, "A Grey Shade of Green," aired November 21 as part of EnergyNow's Sunday news magazine show on the ABC affiliate in Washington. The show is also available for viewing on the organization's web site.

Reporter Daniel J. Goldstein, a 1994 UC Santa Cruz alumnus (Stevenson, politics), interviewed environmental studies professor and chair Daniel Press. Last year, Press wrote an opinion piece in the San Jose Mercury News challenging many of the claims of the so-called green energy credits. Press called them a "delusional Band-aid."

College students and major corporations "are getting fleeced by green-energy scammers," Press wrote.

In 2006, UC Santa Cruz students, eager to do something about climate change, voted to tax themselves $9 each year to buy renewable energy certificates or (RECs) to offset the campus's consumption of electricity generated from fossil fuels. Through 2009, student-raised funds purchased nearly $350,000 worth of RECs.

Brokers who sell RECs claim they support the generation of wind or solar power elsewhere but Press argues there is no way to tell if someone is getting their money's worth or even if green energy is being generated.

Goldstein, who was looking into the REC industry, visited the campus earlier this month to talk with Press about his findings. (An extended inteview with Press is also posted on the site.)

Goldstein also interviewed UCSC student Cameron Fields and former student Chelsea McDaniel. Both are leading the effort to redirect student money previously used to buy RECs and instead invest in local renewable energy projects. McDaniel graduated last year and is now internship coordinator at the campus Sustainability Office.

To complete the UCSC theme for the report, interview segments on campus were filmed by Santa Cruz videographer Eric Thiermann a UCSC Pioneer Class alum. Thiermann also accompanied Goldstein to Stanford and San Francisco to film other interviews for the seven-minute report.

Back in Washington, D.C., this week, Goldstein said he was pleased with how the report turned out, particularly since he was able to spend nearly a week back in Santa Cruz and the Bay Area. As an undergraduate at UCSC, Goldstein was editor of the student-run Santa Cruz Independent newspaper and a member of Delta Omega Chi.