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Energy firms warned to watch what they say in marketing wind

The Vermont attorney general has expanded his warnings to the energy industry against using misleading marketing to now apply to all renewable energy, not just solar.

What the attorney general’s office calls a “guidance” tells utilities and producers they can’t sell energy’s renewable attributes to other entities while still telling their own customers that they, too, are purchasing renewable energy.

An assistant attorney general said the office had received complaints about the marketing of wind power in Vermont.

“Today’s guidance follows the earlier statement on solar energy projects and clarifies that all renewable energy projects must comply with the law and avoid deceptive marketing statements,” Attorney General William Sorrell said in the letter Wednesday.

The document pertains to energy producers who sell what are called renewable energy credits. Utilities purchase these credits to meet statutory minimums on renewable energy their portfolios must contain – much as Act 56 stipulates that Vermont utilities must get at least 10 percent of their energy from wind or solar generators by 2025.

These companies typically build projects in Vermont but sell the electricity’s renewable energy credits out of state. Developers can’t sell these credits while claiming in marketing materials that these same projects are sources of renewable power for Vermonters, according to the original guidance letter, issued in December.

That letter dealt with solar projects. The latest one simply expands that same principle to all renewable energy production, said Assistant Attorney General Justin Kolber.

The attorney general’s office issued the letter because it had received complaints that wind developers were selling their renewable energy credits while claiming to provide renewable energy to Vermonters as well, Kolber said.