Solar too tech or expensive for you? Did you know you could still use green power?

Real Estate Agent with RE/MAX Results

I'm slightly off-focus in this entry, wanting to talk about purchasing green power as opposed to the more activity-oriented approaches upon which I've been writing.  And since I just signed up for this myself today, I can attest to the ease with which you can make the switch yourself to clean energy. 

Let's look at some of the reasons people don't go with clean energy already:

  • Sometimes homeowners are unwilling to make the technological leap and be one of the first to try out a "new" technology (even though solar has been available for decades). 
  • For others, it's still too cost-prohibitive to have the necessary audits and evaluations done, or they just think it's too complicated to install an active or passive solar system or a geothermal pump (well, I'll give them the pump thing...).
  • And let's not forget renters - I have yet to hear of a landlord allowing a renter to install solar panels on the roof and have the hot water heater converted to an on-demand heater connected directly to the panels!

Now let's see what people find so attractive about clean energy:

  • Reduction in air pollution
  • A chance to reduce your carbon footprint
  • No radioactive waste is produced, nor is the earth mined or drilled
  • You are contributing to environmental awareness and doing your part to help the planet

To allow consumers the opportunity to purchase green power, the EPA has partnered with utility companies across the nation as part of the Green Power Partnership.  Depending on your utility company, the alternative forms of enery will vary, from solar to wind to water and biomass (methane gas recapture). 

How it works is pretty simple, with a small cost attached. Follow these steps:

  1. Go to the Green Power Locator on the US EPA web site, click on your state and find your local utility company.
  2. Call and tell your utility company you want to enroll in the clean energy program and tell them the percentage of green electricity you'd like to purchase - it can range from 25% - 100%.
  3. Depending on the percentage of green power you elect, your per kWh will be increased.  For example, with NSTAR in Massachusetts, if you elect 50% to be clean energy, you would pay an additional 0.837 cents per kWh.  If you choose to have 100% clean energy, your rate would increase by 1.396 cents per kWh.
  4. The alternative energy is then purchased directly by the utility company via the regional grid (in NSTAR's case, they purchase wind power from the Maple Ridge Wind Farm in upstate New York, which connects to the New England grid).

Why does it cost more? Because, at present, it still costs more per kWh for clean energy providers to produce the power.  However, as the technology improves, more competitors enter the market, and more people demand cleaner energy alternatives, the prices will eventually come down.

So if you can't invest in alternative power sources right now, why not consider purchasing at least a portion of your electricty from cleaner sources?  You'll feel SO good knowing you're doing something to help the planet!

Until next time, Peace!



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Tim Cahill

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