Clean Power to Your Home: Cost and Benefits (Part III)

WindEmissionsReport

In two previous posts, I talked about how easy it is to purchase electricity generated from renewable sources if your state offers consumer choice in electricity. The first post told you how to find out if your state offers consumer choice, and how to get started in choosing your electricity. The second post in this series walked you through the process of switching.

Here I will review the cost compared to what I would pay if I let Pepco choose my electric supply for me, and what would be my power mix if I did not switch.

My electric supplier is WGL Energy—formerly Washington Gas Energy Services. They were an early supplier of green energy options, and I learned about them several years ago at the Washington Green Festival.

My latest contract was renewed at 12.3 cents per kilowatt-hour, increasing a bit from last year’s 11.8 cents per kilowatt-hour. (You can probably do better if you are newly switching, as companies offer enticing prices for new customers.) On my last bill, covering late June/early July (a hot stretch in which our A/C got a workout), I was charged for 744 kilowatt-hours. WGL charged me 11.8 cents x 744 kilowatt-hours = $87.79. At the time, the standard issue service cost 9.14 cents per kilowatt-hour. (Standard issue service cost actually fluctuates slightly between summer and winter months.) My extra cost was $19.79 for the month.

For that, I am getting 100 percent wind-generated electricity, and the carbon emissions from electricity I am buying is zero. The fuel mix for standard offer service, as of the last time it was calculated for Pepco customers, is coal (43.5 percent), followed by nuclear power (34.7 percent) and natural gas (17.5 percent). Only 4 percent is generated from renewable sources. That $19.79 for the month is my environmental premium with WGL. The price of Standard Offer Service goes up and down, as does the price of wind power (though you are protected from price fluctuations for the length of your contract, if you have a fixed-price contract).

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How to Have Renewable Energy Delivered to Your Home (Part II)

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In an earlier post, I began to explain how you can purchase electricity generated by renewable sources if you live in a state where consumer choice is possible. In this post, I will walk through the process, using my state of Maryland as an example.

Starting with the website I wrote about last week, the map provided by the American Coalition of Competitive Energy Suppliers, I want the information for Maryland. There is a link to the Maryland Public Service Commission, where a couple of clicks of the mouse takes me to a page on Electric Choice. (For Maryland, I could have also gone to the website, Maryland Electric Choice, an energy shopping website, but not all states have that option.)

The Electric Choice page contains links to other information designed to help you understand electric choice in Maryland, including information on the switching process and on choosing electricity from “green” sources. There, you can read about what it means to choose “green” electricity, and you can click on a link that will take you to a page where you can begin the shopping process.

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The Clean Power Plan—Why Wait?

WindPower Aug2015 Part1

On August 3, the Obama administration released new regulations that will lead to a significant cut in U.S. carbon emissions. The regulations require existing electrical generating plants to cut emissions by 32 percent from 2005 levels by the year 2030. The new rule will decrease our reliance on coal as a source of fuel to produce electricity, and increase the use of cleaner sources of power, especially wind and solar. States will each come up with a plan to achieve their emission reduction goals, and those states that are unable or unwilling to come up with their own plan may rely on a plan developed by the federal government.

Full implementation is a long way off. There will be lawsuits and foot-dragging by some elements of the power industry, the president’s political opponents, and states opposed to the president’s plan.

If you live in live in a state with consumer choice in electricity, you can help give your state a head start. Electricity deregulation has brought into the market dozens of clean power providers. You can buy from one of these providers, and cut yourself off from reliance on electricity generated by sources that produce carbon emissions.

I live in Maryland, and for several years now, I have been buying electricity from a supplier that offers me 100 percent wind-generated electricity. It was surprisingly easy to switch. Yet, talking to my environmentally-conscious friends, I find that many of them are not even aware that they have a choice.

It is easy to switch. All that is involved is just a little bit of time spent researching your options and filling out a form or two on the Web—no need to invest in solar panels or doing anything more complicated than a few clicks of the mouse.

I encourage you to look in to it. Below and in the next two articles, I will tell you how to get started.

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