The sad fate of Florida Power & Light’s green energy program should be instructive. Of course the program had to spend a ton of money on marketing — it was asking ratepayers for charitable donations to a cause most of them weren’t familiar with and didn’t care much about. Given that most ratepayers weren’t eager to educate themselves on how they could spend more money on electricity, a great deal of marketing was required.

The obvious thing to do is to make these programs opt-out rather than opt-in. (Steve Dubner of Freakonomics fame makes the case for opt-out systems here.) It’s a straightforward issue of public safety. If customers want to pay less in order to pollute more, they should at least have to tick a box and say so.