We hear a lot about "renewable energy." We know it's good for the environment, but do we really know what it is and how to get it? And if you are like me, you instantly envision solar panels on your roof and then get overwhelmed thinking about how to make it happen. Fortunately, there are a few ways for anyone who is hooked up to the current electrical grid to buy greener energy, and to my surprise, sometimes it is cheaper (but it really depends on what state you live in and what renewable options are available). Choosing green power could make significant impact on the environment, because electricity generation is the largest industrial polluter in the country. So what is renewable energy anyway?
Renewable energy is energy that is generated from naturally replenished resources like sunlight, wind, geothermal heat, tides, even rain.
About 16% of global energy consumption comes from renewables. This is exciting and encouraging, right? But what about the other 84%?
Non-renewable electricity generation currently produces:
- About two-thirds of the annual U.S. emissions of sulfur dioxide, the main cause of acid rain and very small soot particles. These fine particles are believed to be responsible for the largest share of the 50,000-100,000 deaths caused by air pollution in the United States each year.
- About 30 percent of the nitrogen oxide emissions, which stress forest ecosystems and combine with organic compounds in sunlight to form smog. High smog levels can also trigger heart and respiratory problems and contribute to air pollution deaths.
- About 40 percent of the carbon dioxide emissions. This heat-trapping gas causes global warming, which may lead to increased droughts, flooding, disease, ecosystem disruption, and severe weather.
- Toxic-metal emissions (such as mercury and lead) and nuclear waste.
WHAT CAN WE DO?
Here are 3 low-stress options for buying renewable energy that don't include putting solar panels on the roof of your home or building!
- Green Pricing is an optional utility service for customers who want to help expand the production and distribution of renewable energy technologies. With green pricing, you do not have to change your electricity provider. Instead, customers choose to pay a premium on their electricity bill to cover the extra cost of purchasing clean, sustainable energy.
- Green marketing is the sale of green power in competitive markets, where consumers have the option to choose from a variety of suppliers and service offerings, much like they can choose between long-distance telephone carriers. The key difference between green marketing and green pricing is that with green marketing, you are actually switching electricity providers.
- Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs or sometimes "green tags"). A REC represents the environmental attributes or benefits of renewable electricity generation (usually one credit = one kilowatt-hour). RECs can be purchased in almost any quantity and are usually available from someone other than your electricity provider.
[from green-e, the a leading independent consumer protection program for the sale of renewable energy and greenhouse gas reductions in the retail market]
Listen to the Green Diva's Sleeping Naked is Green, 5-min segment on Buying Renewable Energy.
The Green Divas Radio Show, podcasts, audio vignettes and blog posts feature fun and low-stress ways to live a deeper shade of green, while maintaining some comfort and style. Green Diva Meg, co-host Green Diva Lisa and sidekick, Green Dude Scott offer tons of easily accessible information and resources to help make the journey to a more sustainable world easier and a little more fun and entertaining. The radio show broadcasts live every Saturday morning from WMTR 1250 AM in Northern, NJ/NY Metro area, streaming live on WMTRam.com, or catch up on the podcast.
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