Solar Company Walks the Talk With Carbon Tax

A solar company based in Vermont is having success beyond growing its business – it is helping employees reduce their  carbon footprints by offering them a bonus when they do.

AllEarth Renewables makes ground-mounted solar arrays that track the sun, and CEO David Blittersdorf, like many of us, wants to walk the talk of his green business. 

In an interview with Associated Press, he says his initial idea of charging his 31 employees a car tax didn’t go over well, but after brainstorming together they came up with another plan.

Under REWIRE, employees are offered a $6,000 annual bonus, but what they end up getting depends on how much energy they use to drive, heat and power their homes.  

Essentially the business has a carbon tax, which is charged against the potential bonus.

"Basically, you put a pot of money there, you subtract all the carbon-intensive stuff and they get the balance," Blittersdorf told Associated Press. "The less they do (in emitting carbon), the more money they have."

For a 20-mile commute in a car that gets 20 miles per gallon, an employee pays a $5.55 REWIRE tax, which is deducted from the $6000 bonus.

The formula: employees pay $0.15 for every kilowatt hour they use – since one gallon of gas equals about 37 kWh, that comes to $5.55 for that 20-mile commute. They add up the carbon use every year simply by checking the odometer.

Since REWIRE is in effect, there’s been a big uptick in carpooling, bike-riding and taking the bus, and electricity use at home has dropped 21%. They can consume less energy by retrofitting their home, and getting heat and power from renewable energy.

Energy hogs end up without a bonus, but they don’t owe  money if they exceed the $6000 in energy use.

So far, employees have collected about half of the $186,000 bonus pool, Blittersdorf told Associated Press.

AllEarth’s Suntrackers have made Berkshire East Ski Area in Massachusetts the first ski business to run completely on renewable energy, by combining wind and solar:

Solar in Snow

AllEarth Renewables, which is expanding nationwide, ranks 148 on Inc. Magazine’s 500 list for 2012 as one of the fastest growing companies in the US.  That year, revenues were $20 million. And it’s among Vermont’s "Best Places to Work."

Its dual-axis AllSun Tracker comes in sizes appropriate for both small residential and commercial-scale installations.  The tracker boosts energy production up to 45% over rooftop installations.

Read our article, A Carbon Fee For Your Business? Microsoft Can Help. 

Here is their website: 

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