Couple have green powered wedding

Two US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) employees who were married on 28 September held what is thought to be the US’s first green powered wedding.

Kate Narburgh, who has married fiancé Rich Iovanna, works in the EPA’s Climate Protection Partnership Division, where she recently helped to launch the organisation’s Green Power Partnership, a new EPA voluntary programme to encourage organisations to purchase green power. For this reason, her colleagues presented a wedding gift of ‘Green Tags’ from the Bonneville Environment Foundation (BEF), which offsets pollution associated with the electricity used by the wedding celebrations by supporting the development of new green power.

“When I’m walking down the aisle, I can feel confident that our wedding isn’t contributing to global warming and other environmental problems,” said Narburgh. “Rich and I hope that having a green-powered wedding will help raise awareness of how easy it is to choose green power.”

BEF is a non-profit organisation, whose services are available to residents of all US states. “We determined that when a wind, solar or other renewable supplier generates electricity, there are actually two products that occur – the actual electricity and the savings to the environment that occur because a non-polluting source is being substituted for power that would be generated by burning fossil fuel,” Pam Field of BEF told edie. As renewable power is normally more expensive than conventional power, that extra cost means that the customer is also buying the environmental attributes, says BEF.

What BEF does is sell the environmental attributes separately, allowing customers to continue purchasing electricity – which will come from a mix of sources – from their original supplier, whilst paying the added supplement to help fund renewable electricity generators that are part of BEF’s Green Tag scheme. The organisation is careful that the renewable energy is from generation that was put into service after May 1999, so that it can be defined as ‘new’, explained Field. BEF also requires its suppliers to reinvest the money that they receive from the organisation in the next generation of renewable resources, in order to ensure that the Green Tags assist in building the market for future expansion.

The renewable energy producers involved in the scheme include the largest solar project in the Pacific Northwest, a Wyoming wind farm that is said to have been displacing 200,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide annually, and a landfill gas project that has been recovering and utilising methane that would otherwise have been vented.

A UK firm has also recently launched a scheme whereby companies’ emissions can be offset by renewable energy projects, particularly in developing countries (see related story).

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