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If a wind generator is not right for you, don’t despair. Many utilities offer green power to their customers. Green power is electricity generated from renewable sources, mostly gigantic wind machines on commercial wind farms, like those shown in the image below. Green power may be produced by other renewable sources as well, but wind is the dominant source. It’s the cheapest and most widely developed commercial renewable energy source in the world, other than hydropower from hydroelectric plants on rivers.
In our area, the local utility offers its customers an option to purchase blocks of wind energy from their ever-expanding wind farms in California. Currently, customers pay an additional $2.50 per 200 kilowatt hours of electricity Customers can opt to buy as many blocks as they want, provided the company has enough to sell. (Interestingly, without telling its customers, the company also deducts some of the other charges related to coal-fired production, so the final cost is a bit lower than $2.50.)
Even if the utility company in your area does not have its own wind farm, it may currently be purchasing power from renewable producers and can offer you green energy just the same, At this writing, 80 utilities in 28 states are offering some form of green power. What that means is that more than a third of all US households could choose some type of green power directly from their local utility or through the competitive marketplace, according to authors of “Businesses Lead the Green Power Charge” in Solar Today. California and Pennsylvania have been the most active markets for green power, they add.
Chances are you’ve heard about green power and already know whether it is available, If not, ask your local utility. As the markets for electricity deregulate, meaning more and more companies can provide power on electrical grids owned by others, you may be able to purchase green power from one of these competitors. Even if it costs a few bucks more each month, and it usually will, it’s well worth it.
If there are no utilities in your area that sell green power, you can still play an active role in this growing industry by purchasing a green tag. A green tag is a small subsidy to power companies producing green power. It supports their green power programs. Bear in mind, however, that you won’t actually receive the electricity. Someone else will, but you will help make it happen.
Green tags are sold by a number of companies and go by different names, The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, for example, calls their green tags Green Power Certificates, Pacific Gas and Electric sells Pure Wind Certificates. Waverly Light and Power in Iowa sells Iowa Energy Tags.
With city governments such as those of Salem, Oregon, Chicago, Illinois, and San Francisco, California, and federal agencies such as the US Environmental Protection Agency, US Department of Energy, and the US Postal Service making substantial commitments to buy green power, homeowners are very likely going to have even greater opportunities to purchase it.
At the present time, electricity from clean, reliable sources costs a little more, but some service charges may be deducted from your bill, reducing the costs. In addition, the cost of wind power is likely to fall in the very near future as more wind machines go on line and more improvements are made in wind generator technology. Furthermore, we’ve recently seen that while prices for electricity from coal have increased, wind-produced electricity has remained the same.
In closing, as we like to remind readers: good planets are mighty hard to come by. A small investment in environmentally friendly electricity is a small price to pay to create a sustainable way of life and a better future, Investments in renewable energy will also help build stronger economies that resist the potential turmoil caused by declining supplies of conventional fuels.