Thursday, December 6, 2007

Greener living the corporate way

Ever since my utility company came out with the the ability to purchase a block of renewable energy in the mid 1990s, I have purchased one block. These blocks of renewable energy help subsidize the greater cost of renewable energy technology versus conventional means, and are available from many utility companies. Having renewable resources to generate energy is important to me so I choose to participate in the program. Even when I purchased my house and would be under the jurisdiction of another utility company, I was thrilled to purchase one block of renewable energy for my electricity especially as it was cheaper than my previous utility company. I had been contemplating buying a second block, raising the block amount from 150kWh to 300kWh, but I do not need to! My utility's web site indicated they are increasing the kilowatt hours of a single block from 150 to 300 without a corresponding increase in cost.

What does one 300kWh block of renewable energy do for the environment? According to my utility's web site:

The purchase of one 300kWh block of renewable energy each month for a year will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by over 8,000 pounds annually. This is equivalent to the amount of emissions produced by driving a car 7,400 miles or a sport utility vehicle 5,200 miles.

Buying one 300kWh block of renewable energy each month for a year will save 4,200 pounds of coal annually.

Purchasing one 300kWh block of renewable energy each month for a year will prevent the same amount of carbon dioxide emissions removed by nearly half-acre of forestland annually.

Since I thought energy had to be purchased in blocks of 150 (now 300) and there are months where I do not consume 300kWh, I did not purchase more renewable energy blocks. However, the web site also indicated customers can opt to have all their energy generated from renewable resources. "Customers that would like to participate at 100% of their monthly electric consumption are eligible to purchase blocks of renewable energy greater than their 12-month average requirements to the nearest whole block."

Sometimes, I just need that extra bit of information to motivate me. Knowing that I can have 100% of my electricity purchased from renewable sources has me excited, and I intend to call my utlity and ask about this option. From November 2006 through October 2007, I consumed 4,045kWh of energy, which comes to 337kWh per month. Using the new block quantity, I do not need to purchase any additional blocks of renewable energy to cover my usage, thus not affecting my cost (an extra $36 on top of the typical usage and distribution charges). I think that amount of money is worth easing the burden on our natural resources.

Check with your own utility and see if you can participate in such a program. I think it is a worthy cause in the pursuit to generate electricity using alternative, renewable resources.

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