When Scituate resident Charles Hausmann heard about Viridian Energy’s green energy ideas, he knew he had discovered something big.
He and business partner, Tim Lopes, had been looking for a third-party green energy supplier for some time to help usher environmentally friendly energy into the South Shore. It wasn’t long before Hausmann heard about Viridian, which had seen much success in other nearby states.
If the national company choses to come into Massachusetts, Hausmann hopes he can spread the word in the South Shore to help bring affordable, green energy to residents.
“People will be able to go three times greener than the state mandates today and save money while doing it,” Hausmann said, who has started the South Shore Green Team, an independent associate of the company, to expand the local efforts.
Within the state, legislative mandates ensure that 6.5 percent of energy any company uses must come from “green sources.”
As all generated energy automatically goes into the grid, the only way to assure green energy is being used is by enabling green energy creators, such as wind farms and individuals owning solar arrays, to sell Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) for the power they produce.
These credits are then purchased by either electrical companies, such as National Grid and NStar, or by third party energy suppliers.
In a deregulated market such as Massachusetts, customers have the option of choosing who their supplier should be, or who is supplying their particular energy to the grid.
Within companies such as Viridian, REC's are purchased at a market low, making the green energy less expensive. Because utility companies have to sell energy at what they purchase it at, they have little incentive to do the same.
Thus, third party energy suppliers allow savings to be passed on to the consumer, and by choosing a third-party buyer, customers can ensure that the power being supplied to the grid has a bigger green percentage.
Specifically through Viridian, homes can purchase energy that is 20 percent (in addition to the state's mandate) or 100 percent green, and, depending on the rate of sale for the RECs, potentially save money.
According to Hausmann, the benefits stretch to every entity that’s a part of the transaction.
The customer is able to save money while still receiving distribution and service from their original electricity provider, the electricity provider doesn’t have to put large amount of capital up front to buy expensive green energy, and Viridian is able to expand its client base and, because it leaves the paperwork and service to the original electricity provider, turn in a profit.
“Viridian is shooing by the end of 2012 to have a million customers. Right now they are the [eighth-largest, independent] third-party supplier in the US,” Hausmann said. “As far as South Shore Green Team, we’re just trying to get the word out, bring them to their RFP organizations, and creating a buzz.”
Already, the company has seen success in neighboring states.
Starting with Connecticut in 2009, the energy company soon moved to New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Illinois.
“It’s been very successful,” said Cami Boehme, VP of marketing and brand communication for Viridian. “We service close to 180,000 customers in all those markets in just two years... We attribute that to two things. We have a passionate community of people who support and promote our products, and also our product itself…people are interested in supporting the environment, especially when they can do it at a cost savings.”
Viridian officials would not confirm their plans for Massachusetts, especially since the state is still working out the Purchase of Receivables agreement with the Department of Public Utilities. In essence, it would make sure Viridian would be paid even if the electricity provider is not.
Regardless, the company is keeping an eye on things.
“We don’t have any specific plans yet [for Massachusetts], but we are quite interested in the state and are licensed there and are very interested in coming in when the time is right,” Boehme said. “The market would be great and there is a lot of support for green energy there. It’s a market we’re interested in.”
The concept is a revelation to those like Hausmann, who haven’t seen much of affordable green energy in the past.
“The deregulation market is a half a trillion-a-year opportunity,” Hausmann said. “We’ve been able to find a company that is doing the right things, focusing on green energy no matter what, and showing a savings while they are doing it.”
Hausmann and Lopes are setting up meetings with other entrepreneurs in town, speaking to locate Scituate businesses to see if they would like to get on board.
The South Shore Green Team is also hoping to reach out to non-profits. With Viridian, if an individual signs up on behalf of a non-profit, the company will donate $2 a month to the organization of choice.
“A non-profit can sign up with residual fund-raising program. Would allow them to market green energy to their supporters. For each person that signs up their meter to the charity, the charity would get $2 per month for that meter, as long as they were a customer and paying that bill. It allows [the non-profit] to create a monthly revenue stream without having to ask anyone directly for money,” Hausmann said.
In the meantime, Viridian is continuing to grow elsewhere.
“You have a lot of choice, a lot of customers competing for your business, and at the end of the day, it’s challenging to decide which it is you want to choose, if the products are all the same,” Boehme said. “But when you have the opportunity to chose a company that’s let you do something better for the environment, and everything stays the same, it makes it an easy choice, which is why we are growing as fast as we are.”
For more information on Viridian, click here.
To find the SouthShore Green Team, click here.