The electricity industry is changing.
More than one-third of all U.S. consumers can now buy electricity made
from renewable energy sources like the sun, wind, water, plants, and
Earth's internal heat. Such power is sometimes referred to as "green
power", or "clean power".
In most states, you can buy clean power through green pricing programs
offered by your power company. And in some of the states that have a
competitive electricity market, you can choose an independent company
specializing in producing power using renewable resources as your power
Choose from the main topics in this section to learn about the process
for purchasing clean power and the options available in your state.
Can I Buy Clean Power in my State?
You can help add electricity generated from renewable
energy sources to our nation's electricity supply no matter what state you
live in. Here are the types of programs that might be available to you:
pricing programs. In most states, you can purchase clean,
renewable (or, "green") power through green pricing programs
offered by your power provider (i.e. electric utility). Green pricing
programs allow customers to pay a small premium in exchange for
electricity generated by clean energy sources. Check out this table
to see if your power provider offers green pricing programs. If they
do, contact your power provider directly for details about its
electricity markets. In some states, you can now choose to
have your electricity produced by an independent clean
power generator ,
instead of buying it from the power provider assigned to your area.
Check out this map
to see if clean power generators are offering retail and/or wholesale
clean power products in your state.
certificates. Even if you can't choose who generates your
electricity, or purchase clean power from a green pricing program in
your state, you can always purchase green certificates. When you
purchase a green certificate, you are basically buying the
environmental attributes of the electricity that a clean power
generator is feeding into our nation's electricity grid.
Green Pricing Programs
Some power companies are now providing an optional
service, called green pricing, that allows customers to pay a small
premium in exchange for electricity generated from clean, renewable
("green") energy sources. The premium covers the increased costs
incurred by the power provider (i.e. electric utility) when adding
renewable energy to its power
generation mix .
Many power providers are offering green pricing programs to build
customer loyalty and expand business lines as they prepare for competition
in the electricity market. More than 80 green pricing programs are now
available across the country.
The following sections will help you learn more about
green pricing programs:
Buying Clean Power in Competitive Markets
some parts of the country, consumers can choose not only how their
electricity is generated, but also who generates it.
Just as the long-distance telephone industry was restructured, certain
states have restructured their electricity industry in order to allow
competition among electricity generators. In some of these states, clean
power generators , who
specialize in producing electricity using renewable sources, are taking
advantage of the restructured market to sell clean power products to
residential, commercial, and wholesale customers.
Efforts to sell clean power are aimed at consumers who will choose to
pay slightly more for renewable energy products and services that reflect
their environmental values. The small premium you pay offsets the
additional costs power companies incur in purchasing and/or generating
electricity from renewable sources.
The following sections will help you learn more about
buying clean power in competitive markets:
Buying Green Certificates
Buying green certificates allows you to contribute to the
generation of clean, renewable power even if you can't buy clean power
from your power provider (i.e. electric utility) or from a clean
power generator on the
An increasing number of clean power generators are now separating the
power that they sell to power providers from the environmental attributes
associated with that power. These environmental attributes, called green
certificates (also known as green tags, renewable energy certificates,
or tradable renewable certificates), are then sold to companies and
individuals that want to help increase the amount of clean power entering
our nation's electricity supply.
By separating the environmental attributes from the power, clean power
generators are able to sell the electricity they produce to power
providers at a competitive market value. The additional revenue generated
by the sale of the green certificates covers the above-market costs
associated with producing power made from renewable energy sources. This
extra revenue also encourages the development of additional renewable
Several organizations offer green energy certificates that can be
purchased separate from your current electricity service. A list
of organizations selling green certificates can be found on the Green
Marketing Activities page of the U.S. Department of Energy's Green
How Clean is my Clean Power?
Electricity isn't something that we can see. So sometimes
it's hard to know if you're really getting what you've paid for when you
buy into a green pricing or other such clean, renewable power program.
To help consumers assess the true environmental impact of their
electricity choices, the National Association of Attorneys General has
developed the Environmental Marketing Guidelines for Electricity (PDF
201 KB) (Download
Acrobat Reader). In addition, a couple other organizations have
started providing independent information on or certification of clean
power products for consumers.
If you're thinking of buying clean electricity, either
through a green
pricing program from
your power provider (i.e. electric utility), or on the competitive market
from a clean
power generator , visit
the Web sites in the sections below to see how the product you're
considering measures up.
Technologies Used in Large-Scale Clean Power
These renewable energy technologies are used to generate
electricity for residential, commercial, and wholesale customers. You may
find one or more of these technologies offered in green
pricing programs or by clean
power generators in your