FTC Won’t Investigate Green Mountain Power, but Agency Expects Improvements

Green Mountian Power CaseThe FTC has decided that it won’t launch an official investigation into Vermont’s largest electric utility company, Green Mountain Power (“GMP”). But the FTC has warned GMP about its renewable energy claims. In the letter, the FTC stated, “GMP may not have clearly and consistently communicated the fact that it sells renewable energy certificates to entities outside Vermont for most of its renewable generating facilities and, as a result, may have created confusion among Vermont electricity customers.” The FTC also rejected GMP’s argument that it was not subject to FTC rules, stating, “while Vermont consumers do not have a choice of electricity providers, they can choose to use less electricity, generate their own electricity at their homes, or switch fuel types.”

The FTC’s warning letter comes on the heels of a Petition to Investigate by the Environmental and Natural Resources Law Clinic at Vermont Law School. Kevin Jones, one of the petitioners and a professor at the law school, has said, “I am pleased with the letter because it supports our concerns that GMP was misleading its customers by claiming that it was providing them with renewable energy when, in fact, GMP was selling the renewable attributes and the right to make those claims to customers outside of Vermont.”

The FTC’s letter concludes by advising GMP to “carefully review its current and future communications to ensure that Vermont customers, and other market participants, clearly understand that GMP sells RECs for many of its renewable facilities and thus has forfeited its right to characterize the power delivered from those facilities as renewable, in any way.” And cautioned that, “If we identify concerns in the future, we reserve the right to take further action.”