Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Hey You Guuuuyyyyyyyssssss!

Welcome to Day One of the Going Green program here at Casa Burbanista! Our first change is easy to implement - if you happen to live in the right area.

It is to simply change your energy supplier from a coal-burning or other traditional, resource-sucking energy source to a renewable energy source such as wind, solar or biomass. I made this change last fall and it immediately lifted a buttload of guilt off my shoulders whenever I would accidentally leave a light on or need to dry clothes in a hurry. Here are some snippets from my original post on the subject:

Conventional electricity sources include coal, nuclear, oil, natural gas, and large hydropower facilities. These sources supply about 99% of the electricity used in the United States today. Many of these sources of energy would not be economically competitive if we were to pay their full costs, including damage to the environment and human health, security risks, and long-term storage costs.

These costs are borne by society, but are not reflected in our energy bills. They are paid for in other ways: higher health insurance premiums and defense expenditures, and long-term depletion of resources. Incorporating these external costs into the price of energy to give consumers accurate information on the true costs of energy is one of the most important challenges in creating a sustainable energy future.

My previous supplier of electricity was Dominion Power, whose energy source is mainly coal and nuclear. In fact, Dominion is spreading across the US, and is planning three new coal-fired power plants, one in Virginia, one in Ohio, and a mega-plant in an undisclosed location.

Fortunately, due to energy de-regulation you may be eligible to choose where your energy comes from. Yes, it's true! The US Department of Energy has a very user-friendly website that lest you click on your state to find companies that offer "green power" in your state. The results will include utility green pricing programs, retail green power products offered in competitive electricity markets, and renewable energy certificate (REC) products.

Now you might be thinking, yeah, that's green and all, but won't it cost more?

The short answer? Yes. A few cents per kilowatt hour. However, I know that Dominion, at least, has recently announced they will be increasing their rates by 18% soon, so the increase might not be so great. Plus, I PROMISE to bring you enough energy-saving tips over the next couple of months that will more than make up the difference!

What if there are no alternative energy suppliers in your area? Well that just sucks. Go grab your handy-dandy list of representatives and write them each a short letter asking them what they are doing to facilitate alternative energy options in your region.

What if you've already made this change? Congrats to you! But that means you get stuck with a harder assignment: You need to go talk to your employer about changing their energy supplier.

What if you need help finding an alternative supplier and you don't live in the US so all the informative links I gave do you no good? Hmmmm, this one's trickier. Lord knows I'll be no hope, since I'm already on vacation! Why not try hopping on the Yahoo! Group and asking for help... that's what it's there for!

Good luck with this change! Hope to hear some discussion on the group. Have a safe and sane Fourth of July, my American friends. I'll see you all on Monday.

- 'Burbs


Robj98168 said...

I have Seattle City light out here, and participate in the Green Up program-but, while i pay a $12 per month surcharge there is no gaurantee that we are getting wind power. One of those things you gotta take on faith.

Bobbi said...

Good for you! Unfortunately, they don't offer any alternative fuel sources in my area. :( But I did take your suggestion and I have written several letters to my congressmen and representatives!

Thanks for the ideas and suggestions!

Green Bean said...

I don't have any options in my area so I do the carbon offsets program that my utility offers. It feels so lame but better than nothing. Of course, it never occured to me to write my representatives! doh! Let me get on that.

Happy vacation.

green with a gun said...

Write to your energy retailers, too.

"Dear company X,

"I want to be able to buy renewable energy, and am willing to pay extra for it. I would really like the chance to give you extra money, but your current options won't allow it. I think you should offer renewable energy so I can give you more money."

Burbanmom, you should cross-post these blog entries to your yahoo group.

Robj98168 said...

btw burban mommy has been nominated for an arte y pico award

Jo said...

No green power in my state, but thanks to that nifty list of political representatives you made me bookmark a few weeks ago, I dashed off a couple of emails - the first letters to politicians I have written all year. I love being bossed into green-ness. It takes away that disturbing element of self-motivation, which so often fails in my case. I also wrote to the only power company in our state (Tasmania, Australia) Such a lot of political action in one short half-hour...

MamaBird said...

Oooh! A challenge I was already working on thanks to the yahoogroup (which rocks, thank you for setting it up). I am switching from Pepco's Green Energy option (biomass and hydroelectric) which we've used for about 8 years, to 100% wind since Kyle so articulately explained the environmental impact of each option and I'm convinced it's worth paying more to have all-wind.

Anonymous said...

We made the switch to 100% wind power last month. It will cost us about $10-15 more per month. Florence

Jennifer said...

Thank you thank you! I have been going along thinking that my city doesn't have a wind powered program, since they don't advertise it anywhere. I clicked on your link to whine and moan, and what do you know- they HAVE a wind power program! $1.50 per 100 kws.. so no more than $4.50 on my bill extra at our CURRENT usage!

nomikins said...

Yay, I am on board with this. We signed up for NC Greenpower two years ago. Anyone on Duke Energy?

organicneedle said...

I am still working this one out. ConEd, NYC supplier, is an awful, evil, corrupt company to say the least. They have a Green program you can opt for...but there is no direct connection between you and the fuel switch that can be traced. They claim they will add you shares of a green energy source to the grid connected to your area..but there is no real way to tell if they did or not. I am trying to be a believer but it is hard. Especially when they just announced they are raising regular rates 22%. Yep...22%.