This is a guest post written by Maggie Durango. Thanks Maggie!
It sounds counter-intuitive, but one of the simplest ways nearly half of power consumers in the United States can take a considerable effort toward becoming more environmentally conscious is by participating in green product options provided by their utility company. In essence these programs add an extra fee to the monthly electrical bill guaranteeing the customer's additional cost is going towards the implantation and integration of renewable and sustainable energy resources. Since these options began being offered a few years ago their popularity has boomed as more and more Americans are excepting personal responsibility for the future of the global environment. Between 2005 and 2006 alone, before serious government measures began to take hold in the form of the EPA's Green Power Partnership, green option buy-ins increased nationally by 40%.
Many utility companies are promising customers that their green options are contributing to massive renewable energy efforts. For instance Energy Plus out of Philadelphia, which just saw big gains westward into Illinois, guarantees its green option gives customers the satisfaction of supporting 100% wind generated power every month. Since the integration of this program as a voluntary buy-in for their customers' monthly billing, Energy Plus Holdings has seen increased confidence in its stock market power, enabling further interstate investments. The message is clear: utility companies making the effort to get customer-backed investments in renewable and sustainable energy resources up and running are being valued as more likely to be competing long-term.
Check with your electric company to see if such a green option is available. The chances are 50/50 that it is, with the likelihood nearly doubled if you live in a highly populated state. If the additional cost is affordable for your family, seriously consider it if you consider yourself serious about the environment. If there is no such option made available by your electric company, inquire as to why that's the case. The more customers convey interest, the more likely they'll consider it as a future option.
Power companies are going to be the gatekeepers to an environmentally-sound future in the United States. But the drive of incentive is cyclical; without customers displaying interest in green options many utility companies won't invest in efforts to provide such options. While we often expect enormous entities to always be in control, we shouldn't forget that we're the ones paying the bills.