Buying Wind Power
In the United States, about half of all utility customers have the option to purchase renewable energy, also referred to as “green power” or “clean power,” directly from their power supplier, and anyone can purchase renewable energy certificates. In most states, you can buy clean power through green pricing, competitive electricity markets, or green certificates.
With green pricing, customers pay a small premium in exchange for electricity generated by clean energy sources. This is an optional service offered by some power companies. The premium covers the increased costs incurred by the power provider (i.e., electric utility) when adding renewable energy to its power generation mix.
Competitive Electricity Markets
With competitive electricity markets, customers choose to have their electricity produced by an independent clean power generator, instead of buying it from the power provider assigned to their area. This empowers consumers to choose not only how their electricity is generated but also who generates it. This option is only available in states that have restructured their electricity industries to allow competition among electricity generators. In some of these states, clean power generators, who specialize in producing electricity using renewable sources, are taking advantage of the restructured market to sell clean power products to residential, commercial, and wholesale customers. Some default suppliers are also teaming with these competitive marketers to offer more green power options.
With green certificates, clean power generators separate the power that they sell to power providers from the environmental attributes associated with that power. Customers buy the environmental attributes of the electricity, known as green certificates (or green tags, renewable energy certificates, or tradable renewable certificates) from a clean power generator.
Buying green certificates allows you to contribute to the generation of clean, renewable power even if you can’t buy clean power from your power provider (i.e., electric utility) or from a clean power generator on the competitive market.
By separating the environmental attributes from the power, clean power generators are able to sell the electricity they produce to power providers at a competitive market value. The additional revenue generated by the sale of the green certificates covers the above-market costs associated with producing power made from renewable energy sources. This extra revenue also encourages the development of additional renewable energy projects.
Green Power Partnership
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) Green Power Partnership is a voluntary program that supports the organizational procurement of green power by offering expert advice, technical support, tools, and resources.
Organizations can learn more about purchasing green power through the EPA’s Guide to Purchasing Green Power (PDF 2 MB).
Several organizations offer green energy or renewable energy certificates that can be purchased separate from your current electricity service. For information about green power products available in your state and nationally, see the EPA’s Green Power Partnership locator tool.
This report from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory discusses the experience of companies that communicate to consumers that their products are ‘made with renewable energy.’ Researchers interviewed representatives from 20 companies and discussed their experiences marketing products produced using renewable energy. The first half of this report provides an overview of the companies that have labeled products or advertised them as being made with renewable energy and how companies describe their use of renewable energy. The second half of the report focuses on the motivations for making on-product claims about the use of renewable energy and the challenges in doing so.
Majority of World’s Largest Companies Shifting to Clean Energy: New Study Shows Nearly 60% of World’s Largest Companies Have Renewable Energy or Greenhouse Gas Reduction Commitments, Citing Strong Business Case
A new report from Calvert Investments, Ceres, and World Wildlife Fund shows that most of the world’s largest companies aren’t waiting on governments to embrace renewable energy and lower emissions. Power Forward: Why the World’s Largest Companies are Investing in Renewable Energy shows that a majority of Fortune 100 companies have set a renewable energy commitment, a greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction commitment, or both. The trend is even stronger internationally, as more than two-thirds of Fortune’s Global 100 have set the same commitments.
Through two dozen interviews with Fortune and Global 100 executives and analysis of public disclosures, the report finds that clean energy practices are becoming standard procedures for some of the largest and most profitable companies in the world, including AT&T, DuPont, General Motors, HP, Sprint, and Walmart. Among other key findings, the report reveals that:
- Ninety-six companies from the combined 173 companies in the Fortune 100 and Global 100 have set GHG reduction goals (56%).
- Of those, 23 companies have set specific goals for renewable energy use (13%) with others using renewable energy to meet their GHG goals.
- Many companies are shifting from purchasing short-term, temporary Renewable Energy Credits to longer-term investment strategies like Power Purchase Agreements and on-site projects, indicating a long-term commitment to renewable energy and reaping the benefits of reduced price volatility.
U.S. EPA Announces 2013 Green Power Leadership Award Winners
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sponsors the Green Power Leadership Awards, which serve to recognize the leading actions of organizations, programs, suppliers, and individuals that significantly advance the development of green power sources. Learn about the 2013 winners or see past winners.