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NextEra Energy, Inc., and the Lie of "Renewable Energy Credits"

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Bob Meinetz's picture
Nuclear Power Policy Activist, Independent

I am a passionate advocate for the environment and nuclear energy. With the threat of climate change, I’ve embarked on a mission to help overcome the fears of nuclear energy. I’ve been active in...

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  • Apr 19, 2021

When the market cap of U.S. energy company NextEra Energy, Inc. briefly overtook that of Exxon-Mobil in October 2020, Forbes dubiously saw fit to christen it "the largest U.S. energy company," claiming "no company has navigated this transition in the U.S. [to cleaner electricity] better than NextEra." Bloomberg Green believes NextEra

"has emerged as an unlikely green giant with a knack for throwing its considerable weight behind initiatives and policies that are pushing the U.S. into a future of zero-emissions electricity. Few companies appear better poised to benefit from the Joe Biden era."

But is NextEra really pushing the U.S. into a future of zero-emissions electricity - or using policy shell games to conceal the dirty origins of all of its electricity?

On its website the company claims "In 2019, 97% of the power produced by NextEra Energy's facilities was generated from a diverse mix of clean or renewable sources, including wind, solar, natural gas and nuclear" - though figures from another page reveal more than half of the company's electricity was generated at plants burning coal, natural gas, and oil. On another, the company boasts "NextEra Energy is one of the largest generators from natural gas in the U.S.", then there is fine print suggesting the minimal amount of clean energy the company does generate comes with strings attached:

"Please note that the environmental attributes of NextEra Energy's electric generating facilities have been or likely will be sold or transferred to third parties, who are solely entitled to the reporting rights and ownership of the environmental attributes, such as renewable energy credits, emissions reductions, offsets, allowances and the avoided emission of greenhouse gas emissions."

Translation: "Though we've sold the 'environmental attributes' of our renewable generation to power plants burning coal, gas, and oil, if we take credit for them too the record will show twice as much clean energy has been created, and the corresponding CO2 emissions from the coal, gas, and oil plants never happened. This deception "reduces" emissions and permits us to call ourselves a 'Clean Energy Leader.'"

Not that NextEra is the only perpetrator in this scam - 26 U.S. states all have their own version in the form of "Renewable Energy Credits". What's clear is not NewEra, nor other profiteers in natural gas / renewables, nor state PUC commissioners paid to look the other way are innocent; that none are "pushing the U.S. into a future of zero-emissions electricity," but instead are solidifying the role of natural gas in U.S. electricity indefinitely at the expense of ratepayers and the environment.


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