Last year, just as Al Gore was enjoying his Oscar for An Inconvenient Truth, a little group called the Tennessee Center for Policy Research released a report slamming the former Vice-President on his home energy consumption. It was later revealed that the organization may have inflated its numbers and was highly connected and funded by a large number of anti-environmental groups and individuals. Needless to say, their timing and background clearly challenged the “independent” and “non-partisan” claims in their releases.
In the time since the report, real information on Gore’s energy consumption has come to light — including reasons for not installing solar and other renewable sources of energy sooner due to local zoning laws. In November 2007, the Gore’s completed a three-year green renovation (33 solar panels, a geothermal system, LED lighting, etc.) of their 80-year-old home that received received Gold LEED (Leadership for Energy and Environmental Design) Certification from the US Green Building Council.
Now, that same Tennessee group is claiming that Gore’s energy consumption increased by 10%. According to Gore’s spokesperson Kalee Kreider, coupled with the green renovations, the family actually decreased their electricity and natural gas bills by 40% in 2008. Since TCRP is being vague as to when their numbers were calculated, we’re not really getting a fair view of the big picture here — which, obviously, is not a big surprise.
Some other facts to consider: the Gores participate in the Green Power Switch program (offered through their local utility) which allows them to purchase power generated through solar, wind and methane gas—that means that the utility certified that although they are paying a bit more for their power—it is green power. This isn’t an offset, it is a green power purchase.
Additionally, the Gore’s completed their green renovations at the same time that everyone else in the region was experiencing an up-tick in energy consumption due to drought and high temperatures. Would make sense, if TCRP is looking at data before renovations, that such percentages would be in line with everyone else in the area. But, don’t expect them to admit as much.
After all, they’ve got an independent, non-partisan agenda to push.
[UPDATE] Turns out, Gore’s energy consumption is actually down for 2007. Nice work, TCPR!