Beginning this month, natural food cooperatives nationwide are creating more renewable wind energy in their communities through the purchase of 5,000 “Green Tags,” also known as Renewable Energy Certificates (REC) or Tradable Renewable Energy Credits (TRC).
On behalf of their member stores, the National Cooperative Grocers Association (NCGA), a business services cooperative with 108 consumer-owned natural food co-op members located throughout the United States, purchased Green Tags from Basin Electric Power Cooperative, a wholesale power supply cooperative headquartered in Bismarck, N.D.
Each Green Tag purchased supports electric energy generated through a renewable source. A Green Tag is defined as the intangible, generally perceived environmental attribute and benefit associated with producing one (1) Mega-Watt hour of electricity from an electric generating facility regarded as a source of environmentally preferred energy such as wind, small hydro, solar or biomass.
“Supporting renewable energy is nothing new for natural food co-ops” said Robynn Shrader, chief executive officer for NCGA. “It aligns well with a core value of our membership: to act as stewards of the environment.”
Long before reducing carbon footprints and using alternative energy sources hit mainstream businesses, natural food co-ops pioneered sustainable business practices in their communities. They are leading providers of local and regional foods, greatly reducing the amount of energy needed to distribute and ship food. Almost all co-ops encourage customers to use fewer resources by offering shoppers financial incentives to reuse bags, recycle cell phones or purchase local foods. New and remodeled co-ops incorporate sustainable building techniques and materials, such as bamboo, recycled tiles and glass and reclaimed wood.
Some co-ops install solar panels on their roofs, serving as alternative energy demonstration sites for their communities. Most recently, several member co-ops participated in the national grassroots “Step It Up 2007 Campaign,” calling on congress to take legislative action to cut carbon emissions 80 percent by 2050.
“Although many of our members already support local renewable energy programs, our Green Tag purchase through Basic Electric gives members who don’t have a green power program in their community a chance to participate and support another co-op focused on sustainability,” said Shrader.