What is Green Power?
The term "green power" generally refers to electricity supplied in whole or in part from renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar power, geothermal, hydropower, and various forms of biomass. Increasingly, electricity customers are being given electricity supply options, either as retail power markets open to competition or when their regulated utilities develop green pricing programs. More than 50% of retail customers in the United States now have an option of purchasing a green power product directly from their electricity supplier. In addition, consumers can support renewable energy development through the purchase of green energy certificates.
Why Buy Green Power?
By choosing to purchase a green power product, you can support increased development of renewable energy sources, which can reduce the burning of fossil fuels, such as coal, oil, and natural gas. Greater reliance on renewable sources also provides economic benefits and can improve our national energy security.
The National Renewable Energy Laboratory's web site provides an additional discussion of the benefits of renewable energy.
How Do I Buy Green Power?
If retail electricity competition is allowed in your state, you may be able to purchase a green power product from an alternative electricity supplier. Some states have already implemented electricity competition. Check the Status of State Electric Industry Restructuring Activity map, prepared by the U.S. Energy Information Administration, to see if your state has passed an electricity competition law.
Even if your state is not implementing electricity market competition, you may still be able to purchase green power through your regulated utility. More than 850 regulated utilities spanning nearly every state offer "green pricing" programs (see our map of green pricing programs). The term green pricing refers to an optional utility service that allows customers to support a greater level of utility investment in renewable energy by paying a premium on their electric bill to cover any above-market costs of acquiring renewable energy resources.
Finally, whether or not you have access to green power through your utility or a competitive electricity marketer, you can purchase renewable energy certificates (RECs). RECs represent the environmental attributes of power generated from renewable electric plants. A variety of organizations offer RECs separate from electricity service, that is, you need not switch from your current electricity supplier in order to purchase these certificates.
Click on your state below to find out which organizations offer green power in your state. The results will include utility green pricing programs, retail green power products offered in competitive electricity markets, and renewable energy certificate (REC) products sold separate from electricity. For additional information about these distinct products, see our Overview of Green Power Markets.
For more information on buying green power, see: Guide to Purchasing Green Power (PDF 1 MB). Download Adobe Reader
Community Renewable Energy Development
Community renewable energy development can also provide access to green power. Some programs offered by local utilities, third-party developers, or cooperatives of local land owners allow customers the ability to purchase shares of a renewable system and to realize the benefits of system ownership. Additional options for green power purchase include programs initiated by governmental agencies to encourage such purchases through green power challenges. Communities purchasing between 3%-20% green power are recognized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Green Power Partnership.
Green Power Evaluation and Certification
How can you be sure that your green power purchase will benefit the environment? For more information, see our Consumer Protection page.
Green-e is a voluntary certification and verification program for wholesale, retail, and commercial electricity products, tradable renewable energy certificates (RECs) and utility green pricing programs in the U.S. Green-e certifies more than 100 retail and wholesale green power products across the country.
The Power Scorecard is a web-based information tool created by a coalition of environmental groups that lets consumers compare the environmental impacts of green power and conventional power products.
Selected Green Power Customers
Businesses and other non-residential customers such as municipalities and government agencies are increasingly recognizing that green power purchasing can help meet corporate or institutional goals related to environmental improvement and sustainability. Follow the link for a list of selected non-residential green power purchasers. The EPA Green Power Partnership has additional information on organizations purchasing green power.