Since the proliferation of alternative energy providers, which rose to prominence after states began implementing energy deregulation policies more than a decade ago, residential and business electricity customers have benefited from choosing their own electric supplier.

Now, these customers have even more options that include 100 percent renewable energy plans and other green electricity programs. Green energy providers offer electricity derived from a variety of renewable sources, including solar, wind and hydroelectric sources. As the public becomes more aware of the importance of renewable energy sources, a growing number are not only starting to switch energy providers, but are comparing electricity plans to determine the best energy rates.

Some may believe that renewable energy sources are still not a viable option for electricity generation, however recent data suggests the public is slowly catching on to the benefits of green power. In the U.S. Energy information Administration’s Annual Energy Outlook 2012, the agency said that increased generation from renewable energy in the electric power grid will account for 33 percent of all growth in electricity generation through 2035. This growth will be driven by tax credits, state policies and certain federal requirements.

The tax credits alone may be enticing enough to encourage an electricity customer to switch renewable energy providers. Currently, tax credits for the construction of residential renewable energy systems are sometimes as high as 30 percent of the cost of equipment and installation. These credits are expected to last through 2016.

Some of the most common energy choices that come with federal tax credits include geothermal heat pumps, solar energy systems and wind energy systems. Many states also offer state tax credits or even inventive programs that can keep electricity rates low.

The move to switch to green energy is already alive and well in the U.S. In the first six months of 2010, about 11 percent of domestically produced electricity was from renewable sources, and current installed capacity of wind power is enough to supply electricity to 10 million homes around the country.

Several alternative energy providers now 100 percent green energy plans, including Green Mountain Energy, which specializes in wind and solar power, and Clean Current, which offers electricity generated from ocean currents. Switching to these providers is as simple as switching to any retail energy company, and their prices can be compared side by side, to ensure finding the best energy rate.