Author Topic: Worth paying extra for "green" energy?  (Read 4116 times)

Trirod

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Worth paying extra for "green" energy?
« on: November 12, 2014, 10:38:21 AM »
I currently have a contract with an electricity provider that is about to end, so I am looking at my options for renewal.  In my previous contracts I have generally paid a little extra to get the "100% renewable" option.  I think how it works is that the utility takes your extra cent or two per kilowatt hour and uses it to buy Renewable Energy Certificates from wind/solar producers.

I am looking at this a little skeptically now and am wondering if the extra I am paying is really helping in terms of reducing climate change and increasing the amount of renewable energy production, or if I am just being greenwashed.  Based on the amount of electricity I use, the additional cost would be aorund $70 annually, so it's not a huge cost, I just want to know that $70 is being put to good use!

Thanks for any insights you might have.

HairyUpperLip

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Re: Worth paying extra for "green" energy?
« Reply #1 on: November 12, 2014, 10:47:55 AM »
I believe it's voting with your dollars more than anything. It shows support for green initiatives. Not sure if the companies properly allocate these funds.

daverobev

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Re: Worth paying extra for "green" energy?
« Reply #2 on: November 12, 2014, 03:58:20 PM »
It's tricky. In the UK I paid extra to have my electricity through a company that built and ran wind farms. It's not literally 'their' electricity comingnto 'my' house, but you are voting with your feet.

In Canada it's a harder sell; we are right near a big hydro dam, and much of the rest of the leccy here in ON is nuclear, which (when done sensibly) I have no problem with.

I have, do, and will invest in green energy companies, though.

Buy yeah. You are an advocate, mostly. Ideally the system should be fair enough to tax pollution properly so that solar and wind are used as much as possible. But also everyone needs to use less..

gimp

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Re: Worth paying extra for "green" energy?
« Reply #3 on: November 12, 2014, 04:41:45 PM »
I'd rather invest the $70 into LED bulbs or whatever. "Green" is a buzzword that often doesn't mean what you think it does; the money may well go to fatten the same pockets you're against.

Beric01

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Re: Worth paying extra for "green" energy?
« Reply #4 on: November 12, 2014, 04:46:10 PM »
I'd rather invest the $70 into LED bulbs or whatever. "Green" is a buzzword that often doesn't mean what you think it does; the money may well go to fatten the same pockets you're against.

Yup, fully agree. I'm sure all they do is re-route the energy to you over someone else. It's not like it means investment in new infrastructure. You're far better just limiting your energy usage in general.

Kyle Schuant

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Re: Worth paying extra for "green" energy?
« Reply #5 on: November 15, 2014, 03:49:43 AM »
We pay extra for wind-sourced energy. Will it make a difference to the world overall? That's like, if I pay the taxes I owe, wait for the red light to change even though there's no oncoming traffic, refrain from saying nasty things about my wife to someone who'd never tell her, would that make a difference to the world overall?

Nope, but it's still the right thing to do.

Raay

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Re: Worth paying extra for "green" energy?
« Reply #6 on: November 15, 2014, 10:47:25 AM »
I very much dislike companies that are trying to sell to my conscience. I view these initiative as scammy marketing ploys. If renewable energy is determined by science and politics to be the most viable future alternative, it should stand on its own, maybe supported by taxes on the "undesirable" energy sources to speed up transition. It is manipulative and polarizing to "beg" consumers to spend "a few cents" more "for a good cause" because there's always the bad aftertaste of inducing wrong feelings in those who don't do it ("your neighbor has chosen green energy, why haven't you? don't you feel remorseful about being such a bad person? do you want to ruin the world for the children?" to which my honest reply is "how about you mind your business", or a shorter one not suitable for quoting).

GardenFun

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Re: Worth paying extra for "green" energy?
« Reply #7 on: November 15, 2014, 10:53:44 AM »
Good question.  We also pay an extra $0.024/kW for "green energy" and have been thinking about canceling - mostly because we can't prove whether the company is or is not using the money as advertised.  Is this something the utility companies have to show proof of usage during their yearly audit? 

However, I do like the idea of spending the money on more energy-efficient options (i.e. the LED lightbulb idea).

GizmoTX

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Re: Worth paying extra for "green" energy?
« Reply #8 on: November 15, 2014, 11:24:56 AM »
I very much dislike companies that are trying to sell to my conscience. I view these initiative as scammy marketing ploys. If renewable energy is determined by science and politics to be the most viable future alternative, it should stand on its own, maybe supported by taxes on the "undesirable" energy sources to speed up transition. It is manipulative and polarizing to "beg" consumers to spend "a few cents" more "for a good cause" because there's always the bad aftertaste of inducing wrong feelings in those who don't do it ("your neighbor has chosen green energy, why haven't you? don't you feel remorseful about being such a bad person? do you want to ruin the world for the children?" to which my honest reply is "how about you mind your business", or a shorter one not suitable for quoting).

+1

I don't want taxes on the PC "undesirable" energy, either. That's a redistribution scheme. Each energy source should stand on its own.

I fail to see how wind power can be considered green, when it kills untold numbers of birds & creates noise pollution, further affecting the surrounding habitat. It's not very efficient, & only works when the wind blows. Turbines spoil the landscape.

I am all for individual energy conservation, including solar panels, passive solar heating, rainwater collection, using LEDs & dimmers, zoned smart thermostats, improved insulation, recycling.

Raay

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Re: Worth paying extra for "green" energy?
« Reply #9 on: November 15, 2014, 01:59:32 PM »
I fail to see how wind power can be considered green, when it kills untold numbers of birds & creates noise pollution, further affecting the surrounding habitat. It's not very efficient, & only works when the wind blows. Turbines spoil the landscape.

I think the usual argument is that the pushed technologies may sort of suck now, but if you throw enough public R&D money at them, they can be improved to the point of becoming viable (same story goes for "inefficient" photovoltaics that "take more energy to manufacture than you will ever get out of them" - which used to be true, but is wrong today).

Of course, given large upfront expenses, it's a risky commercial proposition, so the good old capitalistic way of raising funds may be insufficient or may evoke conflicts of interest. Think about the Internet: had it not been a subsidized research project, would it have evolved into the global free-for-all network? Or would it rather stay a sucky compartmentalized set of services offered by individual companies, like some of them would still love to have it today?

So I'm not against taxes/public funding for big infrastructure projects in general, but it has to be scrutinized to a great extent and then carefully controlled to avoid the undesirable scammy redistribution you mentioned. Certainly, given the amount of politics and potential for abuse in such grand projects, claiming to consumers that "green is good" and "non-green is evil", you should support "us good guys" is a patronizing, brainwashing simplification, which is the main reason why I dislike how utility companies try to market their product.

MoneyCat

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Re: Worth paying extra for "green" energy?
« Reply #10 on: November 15, 2014, 02:21:08 PM »
If you want to really be "green", you could find a way to produce your own electricity using clean alternatives like solar panels and windmills, both of which you can build yourself using directions available for free on instructables.com.  That's pretty hardcore, though.  An easier way to do it is to pay someone to install the stuff for you and tie it into the grid.  We're having solar panels installed and then we will produce 100% clean green electricity for our own needs with a little leftover to sell to the electric company.