Climate Action Offsetter: NW Natural customers get Smart (Energy)

November 7, 2011

written by The Climate Trust

“Use less. Offset the rest.” That’s the slogan for NW Natural’s Smart Energy voluntary offset program, now in its fifth year.

And the Smart Energy symbol? A cow (more on that later).

NW Natural delivers natural gas to customers in the most populous areas of Oregon and SW Washington.

Company leaders know their customers expect utility providers to be local leaders in environmental protection and energy efficiency. So NW Natural became the nation’s first stand-alone gas (that is, not affiliated with an electric company) to help customers offset greenhouse gas emissions associated with their natural gas use.

In 2007, the company launched Smart Energy. Residential customers can choose to pay a monthly flat fee of $6 or a per-therm option of just over a penny to purchase carbon offsets. Businesses can participate for as little as $10 a month.

Smart Energy works with The Climate Trust to ensure offsets retired on behalf of customers are high quality. Through The Climate Trust, Smart Energy is investing in biodigesters on Northwest dairy farms. Here’s the logic (and where the cows come in):

• A typical cow produces 120 pounds of waste each day.
• Decomposing manure creates methane – 21 times as potent a greenhouse gas as carbon dioxide.
• Biodigesters trap methane while creating an on-demand renewable energy source: biogas.

As of October 2011, 13,744 NW Natural customers were participating in Smart Energy. Their investments will keep more than 115,000 tons of emissions from reaching the atmosphere – the amount created by more than 1,300 auto trips from Portland to New York.

NW Natural still encourages their customers to conserve energy. But now they can go one step farther toward protecting the environment.

Use less. Offset the rest.

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Would you like to be featured in the Reserve newsletter and earn a free reusable Reserve water bottle? Each monthly newsletter, the Reserve will showcase an individual or organization who has retired CRTs to offset their emissions. To submit an entry, please share a few paragraphs (up to 350 words) about you and your decision to offset. Photos are welcome! Featured submissions in the newsletter will earn water bottles, and all submitted entries will be posted on the Reserve web blog. Email your entries to: [email protected].

This is an excellent opportunity to highlight your environmental stewardship and advancement of climate solutions. This is also an excellent opportunity to raise awareness of outstanding GHG reduction projects.