Consumer advocate Ralph Nader on Monday threw his support behind a new initiative by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power to have more customers choose energy generated from cleaner, renewable sources.
Nader joined DWP officials at a luncheon in the downtown Wilshire Grand Hotel to salute 16 corporations and large nonprofit groups that so far have signed on to the agency's "Green Power" plan, which was launched in May.
The plan aims to persuade residents to buy more electricity from environmentally friendly sources--windmills, solar cell collectors and hydroelectric plants--rather than conventional fossil fuels such as coal and gas.
Under the plan, DWP customers can purchase a portion of their electricity from renewable energy sources for an extra monthly fee of about $3, or roughly 6% of the average $50 household electric bill.
Nader has criticized many such efforts in the past as hoaxes that merely repackage existing alternative energy programs.
But he told an audience of about 120 people Monday that the DWP plan is different because it focuses on developing new "green" sources of energy, not merely on funneling money to existing suppliers of clean power.
"The key thing is the new," Nader said.
Nader noted that DWP is offering green-power customers free energy-saving lightbulbs and rebates on other energy efficient appliances to help offset the extra fee and lead to overall lower electric bills.
So far, about 1,000 customers a month have been signing up for the new plan, said DWP General Manager S. David Freeman. The goal, he said, is to sign up 100,000 in a year.
Among those honored with DWP Corporate Responsibility Awards were the J. Paul Getty Trust, the Robinsons-May department stores, the Church of Scientology, Occidental College and the Kaiser Foundation Health Plan.