Renewable energy is taking off, but how can you get in on the action? It’s much easier and cheaper than getting your own solar panels. You can easily pay to have wind farms or other renewable sources create all the energy you use. It’ll only cost you a penny or a penny and a half per kWh, or about $12/month. I knew this was possible in Seattle, but this week I found out about a program that can do it for anyone who pays a utility bill in the US! Here are the deets:
Renewable Energy by Produced for You
Arcadia Power pays wind farms to produce more renewable wind power when you sign up with them. They work with your local utility to coordinate billing, meaning that you still receive service from your local utility, but you get one consolidated bill from Arcadia with your regular electric bill charges and a renewable energy premium that you pay to the wind farms through Arcadia. When I spoke to their customer service agent today, I learned that this premium is $0.01/kWh in WA, $0.12 in NC and $0.015 in MA and NY. We use about 40 kWh/day, which means $0.40/day or $12/mo. In MA or NY, it would cost me $18/mo. if I used the same amount of electricity. If you call and join Arcadia before June 30th, you get 4 free LED lightbulbs, which is like getting your first month free!
Your utility may already have a similar program. I’ve been doing Seattle City Light’s GreenUp program for a while now. They charge a flat fee of $12/mo. regardless of kWh used. With that premium, they produce enough renewable energy to replace 100% of your usage. They generate energy through geothermal, biomass, wind, and hydropower. If $12/mo. is more than you can afford, you can also choose to pay just $3 or $6/mo. to replace 25% or 50% of your energy with renewables.
These programs are kind of like carbon off-sets in a way. You’re using non-renewable energy perhaps, but you want to be part of the solution, so you pay to have someone generate renewable energy elsewhere. But there are also ways to get in on the renewable action more directly through “shared renewables” or “community solar.”
The solar panels were put on the Rain Forest Food Pavilion at the Woodland Park Zoo through a community solar project. Individuals bought shares of the project for $150 and are now receiving production incentives and net metering (running their electricity meters at home backwards when the solar panels they bought produce power). In 2020, the zoo will become the owner of the panels and benefit from their power production into the future.
With the historic agreement in California this month to close down the last nuclear facility in the state, the world moved one big step closer to a sustainable future. It will take lots of energy efficiency and conservation work and investment in renewable energy, but it is something we have to do to avoid nuclear and environmental catastrophes. Those who can afford $12/mo. now can help that process along even faster.