Saturday, September 04, 2004

Options for Green Power

For anyone who wants to seek true energy independence, the options for equipping a new home with solar or wind power, or retrofitting an older home, are varied and growing. But, not everyone can immediately afford to invest several thousand dollars to get off-the-grid (though the prospects for doing this in the near future should become increasingly attractive). In the meantime, many utility companies across the country have begun to offer options to their customers to select renewable energy sources for all or part of their electrical service. For instance, Puget Sound Energy (PSE) in Washington State has added a Green Power option to their services. This option, created in collaboration with the Bonneville Environmental Foundation, charges customers an extra $4 a month at the minimum level, which enables PSE to purchase 200 kilowatt hours of energy from local renewable sources. Additional blocks of kilowatt hours can be purchased in 100-unit increments for $2. By PSE calculations, if 100 customers adopt the minimum option of their Green Power Plan, in one year the environmental benefit would be equivalent to planting 70 acres of trees. Not a bad proposition, and this is clearly a way for every electrical customer to support the growth of renewable energy. If your utility company doesn't offer a similar plan, maybe they should.