Monday, June 16, 2008

OPB, Corporate Shill

While driving to work this morning, I heard this story on the radio: OPB News · Online Site Helps Measure Your Carbon Footprint

It's nearly 5 minutes long, and the whole thing is just a big advertisement for Portland General Electric. It's embarrassing.

I've written to OPB, we'll see if they respond:
This morning I heard the radio story ( about measuring your electricity carbon footprint.

My response is that I sure hope you got a large donation from PGE, because this was one long commercial. (5 minutes!)

While I appreciate the idea there is a place where we can measure our carbon footprint, this story focused solely on the one created by PGE (as opposed to other, independent, web sites). PGE only offers power in a limited area around Portland, much smaller than your where you broadcast (all of Oregon, and SW Washington). Why not do a story on the variety of renewable energy options available in your entire area (Pacific Power, for example, offers similar options to its customers)?

Kristian Fodon-Vencil asked some questions that sounded like they could be probing (how does PGE benefit from this service (web site)? is this mandated by law?) But the questions were softly lobbed to Thor Hinkley who easily turned the answers into yet more plugs for how wonderful PGE is.

I am embarrassed to know my contribution (and my corporate matching dollars) were used to fund this advertisement.

This was not a news piece, it was not even an informational story. It was a direct advertisement.

I expect better from OPB.


Unknown said...

You go!

Anonymous said...

Too bad you didn't look past your negativity to see the bigger picture. I'm a Pacific Power customer, but they don't have a Web site such as this for their customers. I wish they did. The site is full of interesting information renewable energy, not just a plug for products, and in any case I think more people buying renewable energy is a good thing, not something to be snide about. I'm glad OPB got the word out.

a said...

I think anonymous missed my point.

What was the purpose of the story?

Was it to educate the listeners on the basics renewable energy? No.

Was it to inform listeners how they might be able to reduce their carbon footprint? Only if they're PGE customers.

What was the point of Kristian Fodon-Vencil's questions? They did not receive direct answers, and Kristian has been around long enough to know he was spun - he made no attempt to get clarification.

Regarding greenpoweroregon being a useful web page. Sure, one of the seven sub-pages ("learn") has useful information that is not specific to PGE, the rest is all PGE specific.

And pacific power has a web page, check it out. Right on the front you can get a link to their clean power. While it doesn't have pretty graphics explaining what the various power options are, the information is there. As well as in their mailings which I get every month. If PGE were so interested in promoting clean power, wouldn't they have a link to clean energy sources? They don't. But that's not the issue here.

The issue is the OPB story was an ADVERTISEMENT for PGE's services. Yes they're good services, and I'd have long ago signed up for the renewable option. I've written about that (twice).

But let's not kid ourselves by pretending this story was done for our benefit.