Promoting the cause of renewable energy in the US, the Renewable Energy Alliance (REA) has been created by six power marketers. ‘Our main aim,’ Linda Latham of the REA said, ‘is to represent power marketers engaged in the provision of renewable energy services, and to ensure that the restructuring of our nation’s power market ultimately leads to an increased use of renewable power.’ Hydro power of some types falls under REA’s remit, but the Alliance says that small-scale hydro is the most cost competitive hydro option available. The increasing cost of environmental mitigation measures, which many hydro plant owners are facing in the US, questions the competitive nature of larger hydro schemes. ‘The marketers seek out available and cost competitive renewable resources,’ Latham said, ‘and in most of the US hydro must be less than 30MW. However, members of REA have received input from various environmental groups regarding desirable mitigation measures which can be taken at existing and new hydro facilities to make them less environmentally damaging, so they are aware that there are some issues here.’ REA is not excluding larger hydro schemes altogether. Latham did acknowledge that a power company, Green Moun-tain Energy Resources, actually offers a product in California called Water Power which is 90% hydro — comprising both small- and large-scale hydro resources. Consumer interest in the product will determine if it survives and if other marketers will offer something similar.

As marketers succeed in signing up customers, REA believes that an increasing demand for renewable generating capacity will create more opportunities to build new small-scale hydro facilities. Although they have been working together informally since last year, the six marketers which formed REA (AllEnergy Marketing, Edison Source of City of Industry, Enron Corporation, Foresight Energy, Green Mountain Energy Resources and Pacifi-Corp) have only just officially launched the Alliance.