According to a recent Consumer Reports survey, the vast majority of U.S. residents agree that renewable energy, or green energy, is the most desirable energy option when available. However, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, only 18% of the country is getting its electricity from renewable sources.
This is due to several barriers, such as the high up-front costs of personal installation (solar panels, thermal) or a geographic separation from renewable energy plants (hydroelectric, tidal, wind, etc.).
If you live in a state with Energy Choice, you may have the option to switch to a 100% renewable plan and have a positive impact on the environment. No equipment installation, meter change, or outside billing is required. This guide will teach you everything you need to know about switching to renewable. You can also learn more about how Energy Choice works.
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How Switching to 100% Renewable Energy Works
When you switch, your renewable electricity provider takes your electricity supply payment and uses it to purchase renewable energy certificates (also known as renewable energy credits, or REC’s) on the behalf of you and all other customers who are enrolled in 100% renewable plans.
Where you physically get your electricity from remains the same. However, now you’re helping offset your energy usage by ensuring more renewable power is entering the grid.
By signing up for a 100% renewable energy plan, you are essentially voting with your choice to support the growth of renewable energy generation in your area.
What are Renewable Energy Credits (RECs)?
Energy enters the grid from a wide variety of sources including solar, wind-power, natural gas, nuclear power and more. As a result, it’s nearly impossible to know precisely where the electricity that reaches your home or business is produced.
As a solution to allow individuals and businesses to support the renewable energy product – electricity providers offer 100% renewable energy plans that leverage something called renewable energy credits.
Renewable energy credits let electricity provider and utilities offset their customer’s energy usage by purchasing the equivalent of 1 megawatt-hour (MWh) of renewable energy production.
In other words – for every REC sold, 1 MWh of energy generated from renewable sources enters the energy grid.
What is Renewable Energy and Green Power?
According to the EPA, renewable energy, sometimes called green power is any resource that replenishes itself in a short amount of time and does not diminish. These sources are generally better for the environment than conventional resources. Here are five examples of how green power is produced:
- SOLAR – The most abundant renewable source, solar power is created from sunlight. Solar power can be converted into electricity, lighting for homes and business and heating.
- WIND – Wind energy is created when air flows through a wind turbine, which captures the kinetic energy and converts it into electricity. Typically over 200 feet tall, wind turbines start producing energy at around 6-8 MPH of wind.
- HYDROPOWER – Similar to wind power, hydropower uses spinning turbines to generate energy but uses water instead. As water flows through the turbine, it causes it to spin and generate electricity. Typically, hydropower plants are set up like a dam on a river to capture the river’s natural current.
- BIOMASS – Biomass energy is created by using the energy store in plants through photosynthesis. When burned, the chemical energy released comes out as heat.
- GEOTHERMAL – While the sun produces a lot of heat and power, the earth generates it’s own as well. Geothermal energy is produced by tapping into the earth’s natural heat produced by its core.
Why Should I Go Renewable?
Renewable power is part of a nationwide solution to lower dependence on unsustainable resources such as coal or oil. When you sign up for a 100% renewable plan, you’re supporting the growth of the renewable industry and helping the United States move towards a greener future. Here are a few reasons to consider going renewable.
1. Renewable Power is Good for the Economy
2. Renewable Sources are Less Damaging to the Environment
By their definition, renewable sources are less environmentally damaging than conventional sources. As previously mentioned, green energy is defined as having little to no negative environmental impact.
3. It May Be Impractical to Go Solar
Depending on your location, the cost of installing personal renewable sources (i.e. solar panels, geothermal, etc.) has often made it impractical to switch. It isn’t uncommon for someone to have to wait 15+ years to break even from investing in such equipment. However, by switching to a renewable plan, you begin to positively impact the environment immediately.
For both individuals and the nation, the ability to purchase renewable-energy plans is a promising solution to many rising economic and environmental challenges.
Best Renewable Energy Electricity Providers
There are many electricity providers that sell renewable energy plans. For some companies, it’s the only type of plan they offer, while for others, renewable plans are just a portion of the many energy solutions they have available.
Through our Provider Score rating system, ElectricityRates.com offers comprehensive ratings of providers by considering four categories: Product Offering & Innovation, Accessibility & Support, Business History & Community Outreach and Customer Reviews.
Best Renewable Electricity Provider: Tomorrow Energy
On ElectricityRates.com’s list of The Best Electricity Providers, Tomorrow Energy took the spot for the Best Green Electricity Provider. Tomorrow Energy earned this spot because all of its plans are supplied by 100% renewable energy and because it partners with organizations like the Arbor Day Foundation to plant trees on behalf of customers signing up. Plus, Tomorrow Energy’s rates are extremely competitive, often being among the lowest available.
Service AreasPA, NJ, MD, OH, TX
Tomorrow Energy is a retail electricity and natural gas supplier with a mission of creating a positive impact in the world by giving customers more clean Energy Choices. Their electricity plans are backed by 100% National Wind Renewable Energy Certificates. All natural gas plans are backed by 100% carbon offsets.
Other Electricity Providers That Offer Renewable Plans
Service AreasCT, GA, IL, OH, MA, MD, NJ, PA, TX
Constellation is a leading competitive energy company serving 2 million residential and business customers across the United States. They specialize in integrated energy solutions from electricity, natural gas and renewable energy supply to energy efficiency and distributed energy solutions.
TriEagle Energy has been a well-respected leader in the Texas retail energy industry for close to 20 years. Their focus is delivering value through energy cost savings, instilling trust by understanding the energy needs of its customers and providing customized solutions and products.
Service AreasCT, IL, MA, NJ, NY, PA & TX
Spark Energy was found in 1999 in Houston, Texas and was an early pioneer in the retail energy market. Spark Energy prides itself on 3 specialties that set them apart from the rest: energy savings knowledge, customer service and community support.
Service AreasCT, IL, MA, MD, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, TX, DC
Serving nearly 4 million residential customers, Direct Energy is one of the largest electricity, natural gas and home services providers in North America. They are also one of the largest commercial and industrial electricity with over 240,000 business electricity customers.
Rhythm is a Texas electricity provider that provides renewable energy plans sourced from Texas wind farms. The company prides itself on its selection of plans with straightforward pricing and no hidden fees or gimmicks.
Service AreasCT, MA, NJ, NY, OH, PA, DC
Verde Energy USA was founded to help residents and businesses take advantage of the savings associated with state energy deregulation and the choice it provides. They are also committed to helping Americans move toward a more environmentally sound and economically sustainable renewable energy infrastructure.
Green Energy for Business
Businesses in states with energy deregulation have similar options to residential customers when it comes to 100% renewable power. Some common reasons businesses choose to switch to green energy are achieving reduction in energy costs, improving their environmental footprint, and creating a positive image in the marketplace.
To learn more about renewable options for your business, visit the business electricity page. You can request a quote and work with ElectricityRates.com’s network of leading providers on customized energy solutions for your business that include 100% renewable options.