Green products are one of many offerings here at Union Atlantic Electricity. At UAE, we pride ourselves on providing sustainable, cost-effective and ethical energy for our customers. In order to understand the services and products we offer a little better, it’s important to understand what electricity and specifically, green electricity, entails.
Green electricity is the cleanest and often most beneficial form of renewable energy. These energy sources are more than just renewable, they are sustainable. For example, municipal solid waste or large scale hydropower energy sources are renewable but still have polluting tendencies, so they are not considered green. These energy sources are considered green, clean electricity sources: solar, wind, biomass, geothermal and small scale hydropower techniques.
Using sustainable methods is good not only for you, but for your energy supplier and the world as a whole. Often, utility suppliers will reward customers that are using green energy. This is because U.S. utilities have to observe a Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) which is a percentage of energy generated from renewable resources; this becomes the goal of a utility supplier. Because utilities often struggle to create enough energy from green sources on their own, renewable energy credit (REC) programs allow them to represent the effective green energy use displayed by homeowners as part of their own RPS. A REC also refers to the amount of energy produced. One REC refers to one megawatt-hour (MWh) of energy produced or in other terms, 1,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh).
RECs make it possible for consumers to ensure that the electricity they are using is green. But they are not just certificates, they are a highly sought after commodity. The credit can be sold, bartered or traded.
RECs are similar to carbon emissions trading except, instead of trading tons of avoided carbon (avoided emissions are emission reductions that occur outside of a product’s life cycle or value chain, but as a result of the use of that product), kilowatt hours are traded. For RECs, the green energy credits represent electricity produced using environmentally friendly processes while the certificate is sold to a third party entity (often states that are trying to meet legal requirements).
Like many fiscal and environmental qualities, the quality of a REC, and therefore green power, depends on several factors. These include: age, generation source, location and tracking. Regarding age, the best RECs come from “new” renewable energy development. In industry terms, it is usually defined by any renewable energy source (like a wind or solar farm) that was built in the last 15 years. The generation source entails the fact that REC’s can come from a range of resources, resources that vary in cost, availability, environmental impact and subsequently, in value and quality. Location is also important. RECs can come from a local renewable energy project, or from anywhere within the country. National wind energy RECs are usually easier to obtain and less expensive, so less valuable, but local or regional sources have more of an impact on the growth of renewable energy. Tracking entails the fact that RECs need to be tracked properly to make sure that the same REC isn’t being used twice.