Planet Bluegrass depends on energy to power our annual music festivals. Our staff, artists and festivarians also depend on energy to travel to and from our events. Unfortunately, over 70% of the energy in the US is produced by burning fossil fuels which is increasingly harmful to our environment and our health. Since 2003, we have been committed to offsetting our carbon footprint and have invested in carbon offsets and renewable energy credits (REC’s) to offset the carbon dioxide (CO2) created by our electricity, diesel and gas consumption.
For the sixth consecutive year, we are off setting 100% of the emissions created by the Telluride Bluegrass Festival, including travel to and from Telluride. This is our most significant step to-date towards neutralizing the impacts of our events.
The Evolution of Reducing CO2 at Planet Bluegrass
Planet Bluegrass has been expanding its use of renewable energy and carbon offsets to cover more aspects of the event. In 2003, Planet Bluegrass first purchased renewable energy credits (RECs) to offset the CO2 emissions created by the electricity, gas, and diesel used to produce the Telluride Bluegrass Festival. We soon discovered that artist travel into and out of Telluride created eight times more emissions than were used to produce the Festival. With this information, we started purchasing carbon offsets to balance the emissions produced by our artists’ travel.
Once again we are tackling the largest single source of greenhouse gas pollution created by Planet Bluegrass events: emissions from Festivarian travel. In the big picture, it’s the miles that festivarians travel, from every state and even overseas - by plane and car, that accounts for nearly 96% of CO2 emissions created by the Festival. We’re also taking into account emissions from our shuttle buses and the electricity use from festivarian’s lodging.
By offsetting 100% of the emissions created by the Festival, including all travel emissions, we are taking the most significant step yet towards achieving a carbon neutral event.This year we are again increasing our investment to reduce the environmental impact at Telluride. We are expressing a significant part of this commitment by supporting renewable energy and carbon reduction projects through the purchase of 83,555 kilowatt hours (kWh) of renewable energy credits and 3,006 metric tons of carbon offsets. This will offset the emissions generated from Festival electricity use and all travel to and from Telluride. To put this in perspective, this commitment helps prevent over 6.7 million pounds of CO2 pollution, which is similar to:
Steps to Becoming Carbon Neutral
According to Clean Air-Cool Planet, global emissions of carbon dioxide exceed 25 billion tons per year and are growing. This statistic, combined with the fact that there are no federal greenhouse gas emissions reduction mandates in the United States means that for now, voluntary reductions will play a key role in addressing global warming.
Carbon neutrality refers to the idea of reducing, and ultimately neutralizing, one's carbon footprint. The following steps illustrate the basic actions that need to be taken to become carbon neutral:
- Assess carbon footprint
- Account for current emissions
- Implement energy efficiencies and policies
- Promote conservation
- Compute remaining carbon emissions
- Reduce environmental impacts further by purchasing RECs and carbon offsets
- Communicate environmental commitments and accomplishments
Partnership with Renewable Choice Energy
At Planet Bluegrass we are working closely with Renewable Choice Energy, a leading national provider of renewable energy credits (RECs) and carbon offsets to hundreds of Fortune 500 companies and small businesses, and thousands of residential customers. Since its inception in 2001, Renewable Choice has helped its clients support the delivery of more than two billion kilowatt hours of wind-generated electricity. Renewable Choice is committed to delivering products that provide real, quantifiable, and transparent offsets and works with the leading U.S. third-party organizations that are maintaining high standards for carbon offsets and renewable energy credits in the U.S.
- Green-e Energy: the highest environmental and consumer protection standard for renewable energy and energy credit products
- American Carbon Registry Standard: a leading non-profit U.S. carbon market registry and carbon technical services provider
Trimont Wind Farm
Renewable Energy Project Trimont Wind Farm is one of the projects we’ve supported over the years. Trimont Wind Farm is believed to be the nation’s first landowner-developed, commercial-scale wind project. Several years ago, a coalition of 43 landowners in southwestern Minnesota came together to supply electricity from 67 turbines on their land.
West-Star North Dairy
Again this year, we’re supporting a methane reduction project in California pioneering a practice that could lead to a major reduction in emissions from dairy farms around the country. The West-Star North Dairy in central California is embracing a new form of manure management that repurposes waste into useful fertilizer while more thoughtfully disposing of the rest. The new process reduces the farm’s need for artificial fertilizers while decreasing greenhouse gas emissions. The technology West-Star is using isn’t the low cost option, yet, and thus few other large scale dairy farms are following its lead. Our financial support for their carbon reduction achievements make the choice more economically attractive for them and hopefully hundreds more dairies around the country.
Upper Rock Island
For 4 years prior to supporting the West-Star North Dairy project, we supported the Upper Rock Island landfill project in Illinois. This 3.95 megawatt landfill gas-to-energy facility at the 195 acre solid waste landfill serves communities in Rock Island County, Illinois. The project benefits climate change strategies by reducing the amount of methane that would otherwise be released from the landfill. The methane is destroyed predominantly by internal combustion engines with an open flare as backup. This waste product is used as fuel for the generation of electricity. This project is one of 11 independently verified offset projects that meet Environmental Defense Fund's criteria for high-quality carbon offsets. These projects underwent a rigorous review process in collaboration with a committee of external experts in the fields of science and policy (read report).
How Renewable Energy Credits Work
Most of us don't realize that most electricity we consume is generated by burning coal and gas. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), electricity production is the largest industrial air polluter in our nation. Emissions from fossil fuel power plants are responsible for:
- 1/3 of our nation's nitrogen oxide emissions (smog)
- 1/3 of carbon dioxide emissions (global warming)
- 2/3 of sulfur dioxide emissions (acid rain)
In most cases, wind-generated electricity can’t get connected directly to your house. Every home and business that uses electricity is attached to the national power grid. This grid is kind of like a big bathtub of free-floating electricity, maintained by local utilities around the country. When you purchase wind power you are actually purchasing renewable energy credits unless you have an on-site wind turbine. These credits include the additional value of clean power. Every time a renewable energy producer adds electricity to the grid, it also generates a renewable energy credit. By selling them, wind farms are better positioned to compete economically with fossil fuel energy producers. Our partner, Renewable Choice Energy, obtains credits from large and small scale renewable energy projects in the U.S. and Canada.
Everyone has a different reason for buying credits. Some businesses purchase credits to satisfy regulations, others simply want to do their part for the environment. Purchasing credits equal to the amount of electricity you draw from the grid ensures that the electricity you use is replaced on the grid with clean power. Every one of these transactions is audited and verified by the Center for Resource Solutions, a non-profit organization based in San Francisco that administers the Green-e Energy® program.
How Carbon Offsets Work
Carbon offsets, also known as verified emission reductions (VERs), are designed to help organizations and individuals reduce the environmental impact caused by the combustion of fuels with verified and permanent carbon reductions. Some examples of activities and processes that can be offset with VERs include flying, driving, heating buildings and manufacturing methods. A VER represents the reduction of carbon dioxide or its equivalent and is a commodity that helps finance carbon reduction projects.