Power Switch News
I am pleased to report that Sevier County Electric System has had an overwhelming response since we first offered the Green Power Switch program last April. Weve sold blocks of green power to 146 residential customers and 51 business customers, leading the Valley in business customer participation.
Sevier County is one of the oldest counties in the state, and because of our booming tourism industry, were also one of the fastest growing in Tennessee. Our economy thrives on the business generated by visitors on their way to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which is the nations most visited national park, with 10.2 million visitors in 2000 alone. Sevier County covers 660 square miles that include 515,000 scenic acres, 130 tree varieties, and 16 peaks all over 6,000 feet.
We want to do all we can to protect our natural treasures. The Green Power Switch program has been popular in Sevier County because our residents are committed to preserving this pristine environment we depend on for our business and pleasure, and for the pleasure of our visitors. This innovative program gives us the opportunity to protect this historic, 800 square-mile national park95 percent of which is forested.
By investing in clean air through programs like Green Power Switch, Sevier County residents hope to sustain the diversity of the parks plant and animal resources, the beauty of its mountains, the Southern Appalachian mountain culture, and the depth and integrity of the wilderness sanctuary within its boundaries. We live in the vicinity of one the largest protected areas in the country, and were glad we can provide cleaner, greener sources of power for our homes and businesses. We want to do everything we can to keep the countless visitors returning for our recreation and hospitality, and for our virtually endless entertainment, dining, and shopping opportunities.
Ramada Limited Music Road was our first commercial customer to sign up for the Green Power Switch program. This Ramada hotel and five local banks participating in the Green Power Switch program were featured in our first television commercial that ran on our local stations to promote awareness of the program. We also developed a card to place near the light switches in the hotel rooms to explain the program and to encourage energy conservation.
On and off the job, Sevier County residents are proud to show where we stand on environmental issues, and that we understand the need to protect our natural resources.
Allen Robbins, Programs Administrator, Sevier County Electric System
Earth Day is an important celebration of efforts to protect the earth. With the beginning of the Green Power Switch program on the symbolic date of Earth Day 2000, Earth Day is also a time to reflect on what we are doing in the promotion of clean, renewable energy.
During this time of reflection, it is difficult not to be upbeat about the possibilities. People have been incredibly excited about the first large commercial wind turbines on Buffalo Mountain, a site and experience that has a powerful impact on all who visit the site. Wind power is such a graceful, simple way to generate electricity.
Watching the new solar sites come on line has been equally exciting. Its difficult not to catch the enthusiasm felt by the children experiencing hands-on learning about solar power on the interactive kiosks.
Overall, we have a lot to be proud of about this unique program that has brought together the environmental community and the power distributors and TVA in a unique partnership. A lot of trust has been built and a lot has been accomplished. In the past year there has been more media discussion about clean, renewable energy than in the past 20 years combined. People and businesses have signed up for Green Power Switch, willingly paying extra on their monthly bills because they believe in taking leadership, and they believe their actions can make a difference.
During this past year we have learned a lot about what it will take in the future to generate enough power for our needs in a clean and sustainable manner. With this knowledge and experience comes a challenge that is even greater. We have the technology, and people are beginning to understand the need to start the transformation from the dirty, nonrenewable fuels of the past to the new clean, green, renewable power of the future. We have planted the seed of change and watered it and now we need to nurture it and help it grow.
We have learned a lot in this test market of the first 12 distributors. The program has not flourished equally in all of its markets, and we have learned many lessons about how to promote a green power premium program. One of the lessons learned is the importance of having a program that is actively promoted by the local utility. What we have found out is simple: when people learn enough about the program, they support it. However, most people have still not heard about the program.
We are learning that people are willing to pay more on their electric bill to make a statement about the future, and as we learn from the past, the future of Green Power Switch becomes even brighter. Developing this vision of the future will require making green power a part of everyday life. Someday soon green power will be like recycling; if you care for the earth you will recycle, and you will sign up for green power.
As we look back at the successes of the past year and learn how to become even more successful at promoting Green Power Switch in the coming year, a new set of challenges appears. The environmental community has been promoting clean, renewable technologies for a long time; technology is only now getting to the point where we can count on these technologies to meet our needs. Now it is the challenge of the average consumer of electricity to step up and help us make this transformation into a future that is bright and healthy for both the Earth upon which we live and the people who depend on the Earth to survive.
Stephen Smith, Executive Director, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy