ClimateHealth.net

“How to Redirect All of the Payment for Electric Supply to

Renewable Energy”

        by scientist/businessman Sylvester Johnson, Ph.D. Applied Physics

Concerned about climate change? How about a “house cleaning” from the energy perspective?

For those of us who need the grid for our electric supply, the conventional sources may prove to be a concern. Conventional coal, oil and gas contribute acid and the greenhouse gas CO2 to the atmosphere. Nuclear is beset with safety issues, including control of dangerous byproducts that could be made into dirty bombs in the wrong hands, and encouraging further nuclear development in foreign countries. If just 10% of New York's households chose renewable energy for their electricity supply, CO2 emissions could be reduced by 3 billion pounds per year, acid-forming sulfur dioxide by 10 million pounds per year, and polluting nitrogen oxides by nearly 4 million pounds each year (AskPSC.com).

Houses can be made more efficient, by taking key steps such as improving insulation and installing efficient Energy Star certified (www.energystar.gov) furnaces, hot water heaters, and air conditioners. Heating and cooling can account for 76% of home energy usage (getenergysmart.org). Houses themselves can become power producers via photovoltaics, solar thermal, and geothermal, reducing the need for sourcing from the electric grid.

It took me quite awhile to research renewable energy alternatives for the power still needed from the grid, so I thought I’d share my findings.

One of the options that NYSEG makes available is to offset conventional electric power usage with Community Energy’s New Wind Energy power (NYSEG.com), encouraging investment in further wind power installations. The offset payment is made for wind power at 2.5 cents/kWh, in addition to paying the basic NYSEG electric supply billing. The payment can be made to offset just a fraction of usage, or large enough to offset all usage. The corresponding fraction of the basic supply payment goes to Community Energy, while any remainder goes to NYSEG’s conventional coal, gas, and nuclear power suppliers.

For example, if the usage is 500 kWh per month and an offset payment is made for 400 kWh, then $10 per month goes to Community Energy for wind power, a full payment for the 500 kWh is made to NYSEG, then NYSEG buys 400 kWh of wind power from Community Energy at wholesale and uses the remaining funds to buy conventional power from coal, gas, and nuclear power producers. NYSEG’s wholesale purchase plus the $10 from the user add up to make a retail purchase of 400 kWh of wind power from Community Energy. It’s a complicated arrangement, but it does get funding to wind power.

Another option is to sign up to redirect the payment for the entire NYSEG electric supply billing to a renewable energy ESCO (Energy Service Company) for an additional surcharge of 1.5 cents/kWh, for the average household less than 30 cents a day. In this case no funds go to NYSEG’s conventional coal, gas, and nuclear power suppliers. The surcharge is a premium paid because renewable energy still costs somewhat more to produce than conventional. The more consumers demand renewable energy, the more renewable power stations will be built, and the more financially competitive renewable energy will likely become. Consumers drive change.

The ESCO Sterling Green Renewable Electricity available through Agway Energy Services [via NYSEG.com or suburbanpropaneenergy.com/choice-new/sterling.php, 1-888-982-4929, www.sterlingplanet.com] makes it possible for residential users to redirect the full payment for supply of electricity away from conventional to wind power, hydroelectric, and methane recovered from landfills. It’s also possible to sign up for a 50% plan with Sterling Green. After setting it up with Agway, it’s possible to confirm the arrangement by asking Agway for a printout of the page on their system that mentions “Green Energy” and one’s account. The surcharge for green energy of about 1.5 cents/kWh seems like a bargain, considering that the Earth is priceless. As more people sign on, renewables likely will get even cheaper.

Responses to comments from readers:

1] People living in a valley or in apartments have challenges getting off the grid entirely.

2] The electrons could come from conventional coal sources since all supplies go into the grid, then to us, but the supply payments go for renewable sources with this arrangement.

3] "If I signed up for it last year, can I just stay on it?" It's worth calling Agway to double check occasionally, but so far ours has stayed set up to direct 100% of supply payments to Sterling.

4] Dealing with erratic billing has been difficult for some customers. However, my main problem was setting up Sterling, so I wrote the article above detailing the steps to direct 100% of payments for the supply of electricity to Sterling, so that it can be done quickly.

5] At present, dealing with this setup may be like riding a donkey, but it's better than getting trampled by the four horses of the apocalypse.

Further Information

For more ways to reduce heat-trapping emissions: Article, Climate Change, How to Make a Difference

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