Investor-owned Public Service of Colorado (PSCO) launched Windsource, currently the nation's most successful "green pricing" program in terms of enrollment, on March 21, 1997.27 Over 4,500 customers will receive power from new wind projects to be installed in eastern Colorado. This program represents a public-private hybrid; the initiative only picked up speed when PSCO enlisted the Holy Cross Electric Association (a rural cooperative), non-profit groups and local governments as partners. For example, the City of Denver will spend an extra $20,000 annually to purchase a portion of its supply from wind power. Other local government participants include the City of Boulder, which purchased enough wind energy to power a new municipal building; the town hall of Netherland; the City of Colorado Springs; and the Regional Transit District. PSCO's marketing effort highlights high-profile sales and is facilitated by positive media coverage, such as a recent report on National Public Radio that wind energy will henceforth power the governor's mansion.
Two Colorado environmental organizations played major roles in developing this public-private partnership for aggregating wind power purchases: the Land and Water Fund of the Rockies (LAW Fund) and the Community Office of Resource Efficiency (CORE), a non-profit energy office funded by utilities and government agencies to promote clean energy. According to Eric Blank of the LAW Fund, local involvement encourages a sense of community ownership over the clean power product.
The LAW Fund and CORE assert that municipal utilities enjoy significantly more credibility than for-profit utilities, in part because the public believes that they share community values:
These [municipal] utilities were able to educate and inform customers about the program in a way that empowered them to take personal responsibility for the consequences of their energy choices. The municipals were able to successfully tap a spirit of goodwill, local participation, and volunteerism. They were able to spark dialogue and galvanize interest. They brought to life people's unmet desires to purchase renewable energy.28
Investor-owned utilities would doubtless demur, but even the modest track record of green pricing programs demonstrates the appeal of community-based marketing: the three municipal utilities currently pursuing green pricing have added 3.3-Mw of renewable capacity, compared to 1.1 Mw added by the six investor-owned utilities offering green pricing programs.29