Thursday, September 29, 2005

Bullfrog Power Croaks "I'm Here!"

Bullfrog Power. I wonder who came up with that name? Was it inspired during a lazy day at the cottage, drifting through a lagoon, listening to the roar of the resident bullfrogs, wondering how to strangle them, then thinking about how to harness all that green throaty power? Whatever, it's memorable!

Tyler Hamilton wrote in The Toronto Star (29 September 2005):
"Bullfrog Power Inc., which dubs itself the first electricity retailer in the province dedicated to selling green power, opened for business yesterday by announcing an agreement to build two new wind turbines on the Bruce Peninsula with partner Sky Generation Inc....

Customers who sign up can expect to pay 8.3 cents per kilowatt-hour for their electricity over the next 12 months, compared with the local utility rate of 5 cents -- increasing to 5.8 cents if consumption exceeds 750 kWh per month....

Bullfrog believes many households will pay the premium to support the move toward cleaner air, while businesses have the added benefit of marketing themselves as eco-friendly."
This is an intriguing concept: generate clean power through low-impact hydro and wind, then sign up customers, who receive a bill from you but receive their electricity as per usual so that there are no hiccups in delivery.

The rate, as I recall, seems to be what the actual cost of power is in Ontario, whereas the 5 cents and 5.8 cents are subsidized rates. Many have called for the province to charge the actual rate of power, and if they did, conventional rates would not differ that much from Bullfrog's. However, I think people need to be rewarded for conserving as well.

750 kWh per month is a very doable limit to stay under -- I'm no primitive citizen who doesn't believe in dishwashers -- I say the more gadgets the merrier -- but I have no trouble staying under the limit. On the other hand, I don't leave my lights on 24/7. There are also low-income earners to think about. They aren't likely to use more than 750 kWh per month, but electricity for fridges and heat are essential, and the rates ought to be set so that they can at least afford the basics. To best achieve both objectives, the province ought to keep the rate at 5 cents per kWh for the first 750 per month, and raise it to the actual rate or to 8.3 cents per kWh for electricity consumed in excess of that -- make the difference in rates noticeable to ensure people pay attention. 5 cents to 5.8 isn't enough of a difference. Then green power can compete, conservation can be rewarded, and we'll finally see some real change.

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