By Tyson Siegele
You can now switch to 50% renewable energy with no increase to your electricity bill. Or you can opt for 100% renewable energy, which only costs an additional 1.5 cents per kilowatt-hour. That’s according to the latest prices from Arcadia Power, a nationwide clean energy supplier.
While roof mounted solar is the best way for an individual to help the planet and save money, that approach is not possible for everyone, including those of us who rent. Does your rooftop only face east/west? Is it mostly in the shade? Well then, you are also in the same clean energy boat as apartment dwellers. Enough with the problems though. Let’s take a look at how all of us can clean up the air and reduce serious medical issues such as high rates of childhood asthma.
Renewable Energy Certificates
In the last few years, some power companies have started providing Renewable Energy Certificates or RECs for short. RECs establish a way to track clean energy on the grid where previously every electron was anonymous. To make sure you become the recipient of clean energy, you must own RECs equal to the amount of energy you use. The Environmental Protection Agency made the following short video explaining how the certificates work.
How to get RECs for free
In 2015, the average U.S. residential utility customer used 10,812 kWh of electricity. California, New York and Hawaii residents used a lot less. On average, switching to 100% renewable energy costs less than 50 cents a day. That’s about the same amount of money as Netflix and a lot less than internet service. While Netflix and the internet seem like necessities, keep in mind, they are not much good without a planet.
That said, everyone has a budget. We all need to make sure the dollars and cents line up with the bills at the end of the month. Thankfully, there is a free option which eliminates any reason to put off switching to clean energy. It only offsets 50% of your electricity consumption, but it’s a start. You can always upgrade to the premium option later if you decide that makes sense.
Is Arcadia Power a scam?
I generally I have a low opinion of most carbon offset programs. Most offsets are nearly worthless. With that skepticism in mind, I followed my usual approach to search out the deficiencies in Arcadia’s program and came back happily surprised.
First, when reviewing material, I saw that the Sierra Club was a partner. But I’m a skeptic right down to the core, so I reached out to the Sierra Club’s national office and received this response.
Thank you for contacting the Sierra Club with your question. Sierra Club does have a partnership with Arcadia Power. Arcadia Power is the first company to give customers across the country a simple way to choose clean energy. Many people want to choose clean energy to power their homes, but can’t switch to options like rooftop solar panels, especially those who are renters or live in an apartment building. Now, with Arcadia Power, you have a choice to ensure you’re matching the dirty electricity you use with clean wind energy. Arcadia Power does this by buying renewable energy certificates from partner wind farms to match your exact monthly usage. This certifies that an equal amount of energy that you consume is produced and put into the grid for you from pollution-free renewable facilities.
Sierra Club does indeed endorse Arcadia.
Additionally, the Center for Resource Solutions’ Green-e Energy program, provides third party certification of Arcadia RECs. That third-party certification also stands up to scrutiny. Green-e is recommended by LEED, and is the only certification program listed on the EPA’s website.
You can rest easy; all signs point to Arcadia Power being a legitimate clean energy offering.
Switch to clean power now
When you go to Arcadia Power’s website, this is what to expect.
- You will be asked to enter your address to determine if the program is available in your area.
- You then enter your information to switch your utility billing to Arcadia Power. They use this information to determine how many RECs to purchase on your behalf.
- Finally, once you are signed up, make sure to pay any outstanding balance on your utility bill. All new billing will be completed through Arcadia’s billing system.
It’s fairly easy. I signed up in under 5 minutes. If all clean energy initiatives were this simple and effortless, fossil fuels would be a thing of the past.
The planet can’t wait
Not everyone can install solar panels on their home. However, thanks to technology, energy tracking, and renewable energy projects across the United States, everyone finally has access to clean renewable energy. According to a 2016 Gallup Poll, 73% of all Americans prefer using clean energy over oil and gas. Yet dirty, fossil fuels still power much of the nation’s grid. If all of us who want clean energy were to simply take the five minutes required to make the switch, our power providers would be busy adding wind and solar for years to come. We owe it to ourselves to follow through. More importantly, we owe it to our children and our planet.
Tyson Siegele, a SanDiego350 member, is an architect who works to promote sustainable design and clean energy. He created ButItJustMightWork.com, a residential clean energy handbook, to chronicle things to do as well as things to avoid on the path to zero emissions.