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


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.

On that Compare Offers page, find your utility company (Pepco, in my case) and plug in an estimate of the average number of kilowatt-hours you use each month. Submitting that form takes you to a page on which you will see the various plans offered by all of the electricity suppliers that sell in your market. (Currently, there are more than 20 suppliers in Maryland.) Several companies offer options with varying mixes of renewable energy—from 5 percent to 100 percent. On this page, you can see what each plan will cost you per kilowatt-hour, the term of the contract (the number of months, and whether it is a fixed or variable term), and the total cost for the number of kilowatt-hours you plugged in to the previous page.

Once you see a plan you like, click on the link for the website of the company offering that plan. For example, I see that Green Mountain Energy Company has a 100 percent wind power option on a fixed 12-month electric supply contract for 9.4 cents per kilowatt-hour. Clicking on the link to the company’s website, I come to a page where I plug in my zip code. Next I come to a page with the various plan options offered by Green Mountain Energy. (The price goes up as the term increases, but you are locked in to a set price for the length of the term, no matter what happens to the price of electricity during the term of your contract.)

I’ll scroll down to the 12-month fixed, 100 percent wind energy plan and hit “sign up now.” That takes me to a page where I enter my name, address, email address, contact phone number and my electric utility account number.

Since I wasn’t actually intending to sign up with a new supplier, I stopped there, but if you continue, you will come to a verification page and confirmation of your switch to the new contract. Green Mountain Energy will let Pepco know that they will be your new electricity supplier.

You will continue to receive a bill from your electric utility, which will continue to charge for distributing the electricity. Charges from your new supplier (Green Mountain Energy, in this case) will appear separately on the same bill.

If you have your latest electric bill with your account number handy, this entire process takes only a few minutes, depending on how much research you want to do on your supplier options.

In the next post, I will compare the renewable energy I signed up for compared to the standard issue electricity I would receive if I did nothing.

In the meantime, if you are not already purchasing electricity from a provider of alternative energy, try it out. Have a question? A correction? Leave a comment below.

A version of this post was originally written for the Big Green Purse, by Diane MacEachern. It has been updated. Photo credit: Flickr user Martin Abegglen under the creative commons license.