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 Electricity Choice and Green Power


Contents

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. Many electricity customers in Texas now have an option of purchasing a green power product directly from their electricity supplier or by switching to a supplier with a green power product. If such an option is not available, customers can support renewable energy development through the purchase of renewable 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 additional discussion of the benefits of renewable energy.

How Do I Buy Green Power in Texas?
Depending on where you live in Texas and who supplies your electricity, you will be able to buy green power in at least one of the following ways:

  1. Switch to a retail electric provider that offers green power. This option is available to Texas electricity customers located in deregulated areas of the state. To see if switching is an option for you, visit the Texas Electric Choice website maintained by the Public Utilities Commission of Texas. After you enter your ZIP code, this site will tell you whether you can choose a retail electric provider, and, if so, what options are available. Another way to compare the green power offerings against each other and against other offerings is to visit the Power Scorecard, 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.

    Can I Buy Green Power in My State?
    This U. S. Department of Energy web site shows which organizations offer green power in Texas. Their information includes utility green pricing programs, retail green power products offered in competitive electricity markets, and renewable energy certificate (REC) products sold separately from electricity. Included are Green Mountain Energy Company, CPS Energy (San Antonio), Austin Energy Green Choice, El Paso Electric, TXU Energy, Reliant Energy, First Choice Power, and Gexa Energy.

  2. Request a green power option from your current electric utility. If you can't switch, your current electricity provider may have already created a green power option. Some municipal utilities, rural electric cooperatives, and investor-owned utilities now offer a green power option.

Making Your Own Clean Electricity
A DOE web site. Generating electricity using your own small renewable energy system fits the circumstances and values of some home and small-business owners. Although it takes time and money to research, buy, and maintain a system, many people enjoy the independence they gain and the knowledge that their actions are helping the environment. renewable energy system can be used to supply some or all of your electricity needs. Some people, especially those in remote areas, use the electricity from their systems in place of electricity supplied to them by power providers (i.e. electric utilities). These are called stand-alone (off-grid) systems.

Green Power Evaluation
How can you be sure that your green power purchase will benefit the environment? Check these resources:

How Clean is the Electricity You Use?
In the United States, electricity is generated in many different ways, with a wide variation in environmental impact.  Traditional methods of electricity production contribute to air quality problems and the risk of global climate change. With the advent of electric customer choice, many electricity customers can now choose the source of their electricity. At this U. S. Environmental Protection Agency web site, you can use the Power Profiler to generate a report about your own electricity use.

Energy Efficiency Assistance for Customers of Investor-Owned Utilities
Texas law requires investor-owned utilities (IOUs) to give their customers the opportunity to implement energy efficiency measures in their homes and/or business for lower utility bills. This is achieved by providing incentives to energy service companies and other providers of energy efficiency services to offset a portion of the up-front cost associated with energy efficiency measures. The web site provides links to these Texas IOUs: AEP, CenterPoint, Entergy, TXU, TNM, Xcel, El Paso.

More Helpful Information and Links

Green Power Network - The Green Power Network provides news and information on green power markets and related activities. The site provides up-to-date information on green power providers, product offerings, consumer protection issues, and policies affecting green power markets. It also includes a reference library of relevant papers, articles and reports. It is operated and maintained by the Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

Renewable Energy and Your Electric Utility
A Fact Sheet from InfinitePower

Texas Electric Choice
Enter your zip code to find an electric provider in your area. This is a Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUCT) web site where customers can choose the retail electric provider that meets their own requirements. Some electric providers offer lower rates, wind or solar power, or the promise of better customer service. At this site customers can shop and compare.
Also see these PUCT videos on electric choice, and the Power Guide to Electric Choice - How it Works .

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