Curious about clean energy? Get the scoop on how clean energy works, how it’s determined to be clean and how you can power your home or business with it.
“How does clean energy work?”
Picture the electric grid as a giant bathtub using multiple faucets to fill it up. Some faucets use “dirty” generation sources, like coal and other fossil fuels, to add to the tub. Other faucets fill the tub using clean, renewable generation sources, like solar and wind power.
Each time a consumer uses electricity, a little water is drained from the bathtub. As the demand for electricity from renewable sources increases, more of the clean water goes into the tub—and less of the dirty water from fossil fuel sources is needed. Over time, as more and more people choose clean energy, we should start to see the water in the bathtub getting cleaner. When it’s time for you to soak in the tub, wouldn’t you prefer sparkly clean water?
It’s important to note that renewable energy doesn’t go directly to your home; it’s added to the grid on your behalf.
Our goal is to see more people choose wind and solar power as generation sources for their electricity usage. In fact, it’s been our mission since 1997 to use the power of consumer choice to change the way power is made. Because more people choosing clean energy means a cleaner planet.
To see our bathtub explanation in action, watch the video How Clean Energy Works.
“How is my energy clean?”
Think of clean or renewable energy production (wind farms or solar panels) like a banana split. You can eat two foods separately: 1) a banana, and 2) a bowl of ice cream. But not until you combine the two foods can you call it a banana split.
Similarly, when a wind farm or solar panel generates energy, the renewable energy can be split (yes, that’s a pun!) into two parts: 1) the electrons that create the electricity flowing over the power lines, and 2) the renewable energy certificates (RECs) that verify the electricity is generated from a renewable source.
RECs represent the environmental and other non-power attributes of renewable electricity generation and are part of most renewable electricity products. One REC represents the renewable attributes of one megawatt-hour of renewable electricity generation, including the zero-carbon emissions attribute.
Just like the ingredients of a banana split, the renewable energy can be kept together and sold in-tact as electrons and RECs (bundled), or the pieces can be pulled apart and sold separately (electrons over here and RECs over there). A REC by itself doesn’t turn lights on, and energy by itself can’t be called renewable. It’s only when RECs and electrons are bundled (you choose a banana split over the individual foods) that it can be called renewable or clean energy.
By bundling RECs and electrons (eating a banana split), we provide cost-competitive clean energy to homes and businesses. And we ensure each REC meets tough environmental standards through our certification and verification partnership with Green-e Energy®.
You can learn more about RECs, along with the economic and environmental benefits of clean energy, on our Benefits of Clean Electricity page.
So now that you’ve got a better understanding of how clean energy works, along with how it’s determined to be clean, be sure your home or business uses electricity generated from clean, renewable sources. Sign up for clean energy today.