How Does it All Work?
Renewable electricity, or green electricity, supports renewable energy by combining standard electricity service with renewable energy credits (RECs). These products promote the growth of renewable energy by ensuring that your dollars go toward supporting renewable projects.
In order to understand renewable electricity, you first have to know a little about the electricity grid. Many people assume that a renewable electricity product means that electricity generated by a renewable energy facility will be delivered directly to your home or business. The truth is, the grid is not set up to make this possible.
In reality, the electric grid is comprised of various energy plants that are connected by a web of transmission lines. The electricity you receive at your home or business is therefore a mixture of power provided by all of these sources. In order to deliver specific electricity from that wind or solar farm to you, a separate electric cable would need to be built between the facility and your own meter. That would be a long cable!
To overcome this obstacle and allow you to support renewable energy, renewable electricity products utilize renewable energy credits (RECs). RECs are verified certificates that represent one megawatt hour (MWh) of renewable energy generation. Therefore, one credit is created each time a renewable energy facility generates one MWh of energy. These credits are used to represent the environmental benefits of renewable energy. RECs can be sold to those that wish to support renewable energy and claim the environmental benefits for themselves by owning these RECs.
Renewable electricity providers support these facilities by purchasing enough RECs to cover the amount of electricity consumed by each of their customers. For our EcoChoice100 members, we match the units of standard electricity consumed by your home or business with equal units of renewable energy. Developers use the revenue generated by the sale of these RECs to help finance their projects. In this way the purchase of these RECs effectively provides the support needed to promote the development of renewable energy projects.
When more people switch to renewable electricity, more RECs are purchased to meet their electricity usage, which in turn creates more demand for renewable energy. This increased demand then helps to drive further development of renewable energy projects.
In the case of our own EcoChoice100, The Energy Co-op matches 100 percent of our members’ electricity usage with RECs generated by Pennsylvania renewable energy facilities. EcoChoice100 consists of 99 percent wind energy. EcoChoice100 also includes 1 percent solar power, the majority of which comes from the rooftops of our own members in Southeastern PA. In this way, our members’ purchase of EcoChoice helps to support the renewable energy projects in our state.