Green power is electricity that is generated from resources such as solar, wind, geothermal, biomass, and low-impact hydro facilities. Conventional electricity generation, based on the combustion of fossil fuels, is the nation's single largest industrial source of air pollution. The increasing availability of green power enables electricity customers to accelerate installation of renewable energy technologies. As more green power sources are developed - displacing conventional generation - the overall environmental impacts associated with electricity generation will be significantly reduced.
Choosing green power offers a number of benefits to businesses and institutions, including:
Green power is available in four basic forms, the availability of which partially depends upon the status of electric utility restructuring in the state where the purchase is being made.
Also known as "percentage products," blended products allow customers, primarily in states with competitive electricity markets, to switch to electricity that contains a percentage of renewable energy. The renewable energy content of blended products can vary from 2 percent to 100 percent according to the renewable resources available to utilities or marketers.
Block products allow customers served by monopoly utilities to choose green power from the electric grid in standard units of energy at a fixed price, which is converted to a premium and added to their regular electric bill. Customers decide how many blocks they want to purchase each month.
Green tags allow customers to purchase the renewable attributes of a specific quantity of renewable energy. Green tags are sold separately from electricity and can be purchased for a location anywhere in the U.S. In this way, a customer can choose green power even if the local utility or marketer does not offer a green power product. One green tag typically represents the renewable attributes associated with one megawatt hour of green power.
Customers can install their own renewable energy generating equipment at their facility. On-site renewable generation can increase power reliability, provide stable electricity costs, and help manage waste streams. Furthermore, in many states, excess green power generated on-site can be returned to the electric grid, in effect allowing customers to obtain credit from their utility. (This is also known as "net-metering.")
Green power certification and accreditation programs help ensure that customers get what they pay for when they choose green power.