Paying for Utilities to Generate Green Power

Renewable energy — By Stephanie on August 11, 2010 at 6:05 am
122271605 e05980926b Paying for Utilities to Generate Green Power

Utility rates are climbing due to green power costs

Are you connected to the grid?  Pay reasonable electricity bills each month?  That could soon change.

As more and more states adopt renewable portfolio standards, utilities are being forced to invest in renewable energy in order to comply (i.e. 20% renewable energy by 2020).  European countries are doing the same thing.  Burning coal is on its way out, and solar, wind, geothermal and other forms of clean energy are still – unfortunately – more expensive than fossil fuels.

In short, we will be paying for utilities to generate green power.  Utilities are already seeking, and receiving approval for, rate hikes to cover the costs of new transmission lines, utility-scale solar plants, wind power projects and pollution reducing equipment for coal-based power plants.

Here in Oregon, my local utility is raising rates for most residential customers by nearly $8.50 a month.  That’s over $100 extra each year that we will no longer see.  However, we are pretty fortunate to have the 12th lowest electricity rates in the nation (8.91 cents per kilowatt hour).  And since a good portion of our power comes from hydropower and wind energy, Oregon utilities have less of a hill to climb to meet the renewable portfolio standards.

electricmeterge main Full Paying for Utilities to Generate Green Power

Don't blame the meter reader for rising utility bills

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the states that pay the most for electricity include:

  • Hawaii: 27.15 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh)
  • Connecticut: 19.71 cents per kWh
  • New York: 18.98 cents per kWh
  • Massachusetts: 16.46 cents per kWh
  • Alaska: 16.45 cents per kWh

Those that live in these states with the most expensive power could see a more significant jump in rates to cover the price of green power. And that’s not all – some lawmakers are considering utility bills as a prime location for added surcharges to cover renewable energy R&D costs.

So what can you do, if you are a consumer of grid-based power?

Perhaps the most obvious answer is to reduce your reliance on the grid!  Install energy efficient appliances, use less hot water, replace incandescent bulbs with LED lights and turn off the lights and unplug things before bed and during the day.  We can all cut our energy usage.

Beyond that, consider installing residential solar panels or a small wind turbine to reduce your utility bill.  Excess energy generated by your system can be fed back into the grid for a credit through net metering.  Some people have even reduced their utility bills to $0!

Paying for utilities to generate green power may be unavoidable, but you can control how much grid-based power you’ll use!

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