Florida Power and Light, the regulated electric utility for almost all Floridians, has offered its customers an opportunity to help reduce carbon dioxide emissions. By signing up for the Sunshine Energy program, they can ensure that 1,000 kWh of electricity from cleaner sources than fossil fuels will be produced in Florida and other states, allegedly reducing the customer’s carbon emissions by 10,800 pounds per year, the amount the average car emits in 12,000 miles of driving.
Naturally, of course, all of FPL’s customers will want to do this. And those who really want to help cut carbon emissions will sign up for more Sunshine Energy. My last FPL bill, for instance, showed usage of 1800 kWh for the month. So I’ll sign up for 1800 kWh worth of Sunshine Energy and eliminate my carbon emissions from electricity.
There’s just one catch: Basic signup costs $9.75 per month. At that rate, offsetting my entire 1800 kWh would cost $17.55. And I get no additional electricity for it. That’s right. I voluntarily pay more to get the same amount of electricity.
If other uses of my money didn’t matter, and if I really thought reducing carbon emissions were somehow helpful rather than harmful by depriving plants of needed CO2, perhaps I’d sign up. There’s nothing wrong with a little altruism.
My point is different. That FPL would have to charge more for electricity from cleaner sources makes the very concrete point that those cleaner sources are not yet price competitive with traditional fuels.
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