What You Should Know about ‘Green’ Energy Offers
If you receive a solicitation to purchase green or renewable energy from an entity other than your cooperative, what is the seller selling? Recently, we were made aware of an out-of-state company that is marketing “renewable energy” to CCEC members and other utility customers. In reality, the company’s offer is to purchase renewable attributes, sometimes called Renewable Energy Credits or RECs, not actual renewable energy, on your behalf.
CCEC buys energy from many different sources and generators. Currently, 54% of the energy is from zero-emission nuclear generation, 31% from natural gas, 4% from renewables, 3% from market purchases of unknown sources, and only 6% from coal-fired generation. In addition to the renewable energy purchased, the cooperative buys (RECs) sufficient to meet the mandates of the state’s Renewable Energy & Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard.
RECs are non-tangible energy commodities that represent proof that electricity generated from an eligible renewable energy resource was fed into the electric grid.
The RECs purchased by the cooperative are required to be registered and approved by the NC Utilities Commission. Each REC that is delivered into North Carolina receives a registration number, which is retired in the year it is used to meet the state mandate. This process was developed to ensure RECs are valid and carefully monitored to ensure state laws and the mandate are being met. RECs offered for sale from an out-of-state source may not be registered in NC and could not be used for compliance purposes in our state.
Solicitations that promise green energy need to be carefully considered. A member recently received a marketing letter from an out-of-state company that would have her pay a 14% premium to receive green energy. In truth, she would still receive the same energy she has always received from CCEC. The 14% premium would likely be used to purchase RECs for the company – not the cooperative or any of its members – with no indication where the energy is generated or where the RECs are registered.
To sign up for this offer on the company’s website, the company requests your utility company online login information so they can pay that bill. You, in turn, would receive a consolidated bill consisting of the co-op bill, plus a markup for the renewable energy credits (RECs). We support continued development of renewable energy resources, but the cost of those resources for our members has to be balanced with our overarching mission to provide them both reliable and affordable electricity to all our members.