On Tuesday, state regulators shut down the Sunshine Energy Program which allowed Florida Power & Light ratepayers to contribute to the utility’s investments in renewable energy. Regulators found that, at best, 24% of the $9.75 each customer voluntarily added to his or her bill was actually invested in renewable energy. Commissioner Nathan Skop concludes that about $9 MILLION went “into a black hole where there is no transparency. . . . Clearly this is not right.” He went on to note that “no reasonable person would have contributed to this program knowing that 80 percent” of their money “was not going to renewables.”Skop is right. No reasonable person would send money to such a flawed program. But, let’s set aside the issue of the massive inefficiencies plaguing Florida Power & Light’s Sunshine Energy Program. Surely, upon learning of the program’s problems, the program would lose most, if not all, of its customers. After all, if we believe what we hear in the media, no one wants to throw money away in these dire economic times, right?
Florida Power & Light Vice-President Wade Litchfield claimed that of the 39,000 donors, even after the scandal was publicized, very few people dropped out. In the past month, that number was only ”60 customers over and above the normal attrition rate,” showing that the program had a strong following regardless of how the money was spent, Litchfield said.
This raises a very important question. Why in the world would anyone send money to this program?
Answer: Green Guilt. People buying into the ‘green’ fad simply want to feel better about themselves, regardless of whether their actions actually do any good. People are buying carbon offsets to ‘balance’ out their impact on the environment. Once they send their money in, they feel better about driving SUVs. In the extreme case of environmental patron saint Al Gore, he buys credits in an effort to offset his 22,619 kWh of monthly electricity use (more than twice the energy a typical household uses in a year!). Of course, Al Gore is buying carbon credits from himself, but that is a whole other issue.
For more on St. Gore’s propagation of green-fueled guilt, and for a link to an excellent video exploring green guilt and the parting effect it has on people and their money, see Newsbusters’ recent post about the “Being Green” episode of Penn and Teller’s series Bulls#%t.