Electric utility Reliant (NYSE: NRG) and its EV recharging subsidiary eVgo will donate $25 to the Texas Trees Foundation or Trees for Houston each time a customer take an electric vehicle test drive of the Mitsubishi i or Nissan Leaf in North Texas or Houston at “EVs for Trees” dealerships. Dealers will also donate $25. If a NRG customer test drives both the Leaf and Mitsu i, a total of $75 will be donated.
“Electric vehicles deliver great economic, health and environmental benefits by providing reduced operational costs as well as zero tailpipe emissions,” said Arun Banskota, President of eVgo, not without self economic interest.
The verity of this proposition of course depends on how the electricity is generated. Reliant’s owner NRG Energy has 29 traditional gas, coal and oil powered plants with more than 25,000 megawatts of capacity, roughly as much needed to supply 20 million homes, but only 6 operational “clean energy” plants, including wind farms, a solar farm, and if, big if, you count the South Texas Nuclear Plant as clean.
Reliant has at best a mixed record as a corporate citizen. In March, Governor Jerry Brown of California announced a controversial agreement between the Public Utilities Commission and NRG Energy as part of a legal case that goes back to California’s phony 2001 energy crisis. NRG is the successor entity to Dynegy Power Marketing, the firm blamed by the PUC for $940 million in price gouging, widespread blackouts and ultimately the bankruptcy of PSEG. (See Ecotality Sues California Regulators over Dynegy Price Gouging Deal and Alleged EV Charging Station Monopoly)
Still some may consider this a good EV program. According to the Texas Forest Service, as many as half a billion trees may have died across the state from the effects of the 2011 drought alone. Reliant customers interested in participating in the program can download an “EVs for Trees” test drive voucher online at www.EVsforTrees.com. No purchase is necessary; participants can simply take the voucher to a participating dealer.