Tag Archives: Bullfrog Power

GM to sell “Bullfrog Edition” of Chevy Volt, a $198 upgrade offering 2 years of green-certified electricity

Toronto-based green energy retailer Bullfrog Power is teaming up with General Motors Canada to offer what Bullfrog CEO Tom Heintzman is calling a “Bullfrog Edition” Chevy Volt. This edition of the Volt would be available via all GM dealerships across Canada and would come at a $198 premium. In return, the customer gets a Bullfrog Edition plaque on the vehicle and two years of green (incl. nuke-free) electricity from Bullfrog, based on average customer electricity consumption. “It’s really trying to get people aware of the fact that just because you’re plugging into the wall doesn’t mean it’s emission-free,” Heintzman told me. “Electric vehicles ultimately need to be tied to renewable energy. This makes the link in a more tangible and powerful way.”

The deal is very similar to how many car manufacturers already offer satellite radio, or how some have offered a year’s worth or more of free gasoline. “It works out to 7.5 megawatt-hours of electricity over the course of the two years,” he said. I asked if this is an exclusive deal with GM, or whether Bullfrog is able to make a similar offer with other EV manufacturers. “It takes a while to put a program like this together, so we don’t anticipate anyone else coming aboard within the next year. At some point in time, we would hope that all EV manufacturers would begin offering it.”

Bullfrog Power launches “green” natural gas service to complement electricity offering

We knew it was coming, just didn’t think it would come so quickly. Bullfrog Power, just weeks after announcing the start of a pilot project with Kraft Canada, has launched a new “green” natural gas service for residential and business consumers to complement its green electricity retail business. This country-wide launch is Bullfrog’s first major foray into a service other than electricity, a recognition that natural gas use in Canadian households represents a big portion of the country’s carbon footprint and needs to be addressed.

This is the right path for Bullfrog, which has developed a strong brand in Canada. Like its electricity business, Bullfrog doesn’t produce green natural gas itself. It partners with a developer that, for example, extracts landfill gas, cleans it up, and injects it into a natural gas pipeline. As I understand it Bullfrog purchases that gas (and, more importantly, the green credits associated with it) and resells it. It doesn’t sell it directly to the customer, because all the gas is mixed into the larger network. Rather, it’s treated more like a direct offset to whatever natural gas that customer consumes. Bullfrog then retires those green credits so they can’t be sold through the market. If I, as a Bullfrog customer, consume X amount of natural gas in a given month, what I pay makes sure that X amount of green natural gas gets injected into the gas system to offset my consumption and that all associated credits are taken off the market.

This approach doesn’t sit well with everyone, and indeed, it’s a mysterious process to most people. It’s unclear to me, for example, how much new production (in the case of green natural gas) or new generation (in the case of green electricity) Bullfrog is stimulating and that would otherwise not be built. That is, is this simply a packaging and reselling of existing production/generation on the market? But even if that’s the case, for some people it doesn’t matter. Some consumers will pay a premium to make sure, out of principle, that all of the energy they use is green — that is, none of it comes from nuclear or fossil fuels. Obviously, there’s enough demand in the market for Bullfrog to make a business of it. This is encouraging.

But that’s just part of the story for me. By entering the business, Bullfrog will do what it did for green electricity: raise awareness of a green alternative, stimulate talk of clean options, influence public policy and debate, and break new ground so that it’s easier for others in the market to follow.

Bullfrog Power to retail “green” natural gas, signs up Kraft Canada as first customer

About five years ago Bullfrog Power of Toronto broke new ground by becoming the first retailer of 100 per cent green electricity. It purchases power from small wind and hydro developers and sells it back to its customers at a green premium. Customers don’t consume the clean power directly but instead purchase it like a direct offset to the electricity they take from the grid. Bullfrog takes a portion of the premium it charges and invests it in new green power to accommodate its customers’ growing needs.

Today, Bullfrog is announcing plans to take the same model to the business of selling natural gas, starting with a pilot project that will see it deliver a “green” natural gas product to Kraft Canada, which is purchasing enough of it — along with green electricity — to cover the baking and packaging of its Dad’s line of oatmeal cookies.  Kraft will print a “Bullfrog-powered” logo on the front of 15 million boxes annually to promote the low-carbon content of its cookies to customers.

There are two interesting angles here. One is that Kraft will be one of the first major food brands to promote the fact that the making of a particular product was carbon-neutral or better. This is presumably to boost the appeal to consumers who are concerned about climate change. And why not go in this direction? Food manufacturers and retailers already do well selling products that are “organic” or “free range” or have “zero transfats” or come from local farmers. The kind of energy used to make a product should also be part of the equation, and perhaps we’ll see this trend taking off — which is exactly what Bullfrog is hoping to kickstart.

The other angle is the impact this will have on the natural gas market. Bullfrog is getting its green gas product from a company in Quebec called EBI Energie, which has a landfill-gas facility nearly Montreal that injects into a nearby TransCanada Pipeline. The injection of biogas or landfill gas into natural gas pipelines is done throughout Europe and parts of the United States, but it’s a relatively new thing here in Canada. EBI is one of the few doing it, and that’s because considerable expense must go into extracting and conditioning the gas to the point of being pipeline quality before injection. For projects to be economical, they must be of a certain scale. Bullfrog, as a future reseller of this product, could be a catalyst for more biogas/landfill-gas injection projects emerging across the country, assuming its customers are willing to pay for it. It will also create more awareness of this opportunity, as it did for green electricity.

One barrier in Ontario will be the feed-in-tariff program, which pays a premium to developers who want to turn biogas/landfill gas into electricity. This incentive skews the market in favour of electricity production, which from a greenhouse-gas emissions perspective may not be the best approach. More on that later…

Some upcoming green events: local procurement event, alt-energy panel, and net-zero homes awards

Apologies for the low frequency of posts over the past few days. It’s been extremely busy. My grandmother, a dear lady who had the good fortune of living to 96, also passed away Thursday morning so I’ve been assisting on that front.

I do want to point out a few upcoming events, however. Read below for details on the Greening Greater Toronto Marketplace on May 12, an alternative energy panel I’m moderating at the Empire Club of Canada on May 21, and the Net-Zero Energy Home Awards on June 8. Continue reading Some upcoming green events: local procurement event, alt-energy panel, and net-zero homes awards

Major gas utility warms up to residential solar thermal

Solar domestic hot-water systems don’t grab as many headlines, probably because they’re not considered as high-tech as their solar PV cousins, where science is pushing the boundaries of sunlight-to-electricity conversion. I’m always surprised that residential solar thermal systems don’t get much attention in the United States, particularly in the south where many homes have swimming pools (that need heating) and where the sun shines warm all year, making the payback dramatically better than PV. In Canada, where the conditions are less ideal, we seem for some strange reason to have a greater appreciation for rooftop solar thermal systems, and indeed, have many startups, such as EnerWorks, and academics spending considerable time improving on the technology.

Now, it seems, there’s a much bigger push going on to put solar thermal on Canadian rooftops. Just this week, natural gas distribution giant Enbridge announced a partnership with green electricity retailer Bullfrog Power that is targeting the installation of 1,200 residential solar thermal systems in Ontario over the next two years. Continue reading Major gas utility warms up to residential solar thermal