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Green Power Partnership

Types of Products

View the Summary Table (PDF) (1 pp, 4MB, About PDF)

Several different types of green power products are available. The main distinction between product options depends on where the power generation equipment is located: on the power grid or on site at your facility. Your organization can use any combination of green power products to meet its goals.

Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs)

Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs), also known as green tags, green energy certificates, or tradable renewable certificates, represent the technology and environmental attributes of electricity generated from renewable resources.

Renewable Energy Certificates
Benefits
  • Provides flexibility when green power products are not otherwise locally available.
  • Lets you maintain existing relationships with your utility service providers.
  • Serves as a practical product option for leased space environments when your organization may not have direct control of its utility service relationship.
  • Allows you to specify product sourcing requirements such as resource type, location, and vintage.
  • Allows you to scale the size of your organization's green power purchase.
  • Price premiums can be less than other "bundled" products.
  • Potential to make claims about being solar powered (if associated RECs are retained).
  • Potential reduction in carbon footprint (if associated RECs are retained).
  • Potential increase in property value.
  • Support for local economy and job creation.
Additional Considerations
  • Does not provide a financial hedge against rising energy costs.
  • Can be a challenge to communicate the concept of RECs to stakeholders.

Utility Products (green pricing or green marketing)

Depending on whether you live in a regulated or competitive electricity market you may be able to buy a green pricing product or green marketing product from your electricity provider. In competitive markets, customers can choose to purchase green marketing products from providers other than their local utility. In regulated markets, customers may be able to buy a green pricing product from their local utility. In either case, buyers pay a small premium in exchange for electricity generated from green power resources. The premium covers the increased costs incurred by the power provider (i.e., electric utility) when adding green power to its power generation mix.

Utility Products
Benefits
  • Consolidates your green power purchase and electric service into a single utility bill.
  • Can offer savings through long-term purchase contracts with your utility service provider.
  • Is typically sourced from local renewable resources within the utility's service territory.
Additional Considerations
  • Can be limited in terms of resource base, location, and emissions reduction value.
  • Can include fuel charges associated with fossil fuel generation.

On-site Generation Systems

On-site generation produces electricity from renewable resources using a system or device located at the site where the power is used.

What are on-site renewables?
On-site renewables produce electricity at an organization's own facilities using eligible renewable energy resources. On-site renewable generation can increase power reliability, provide stable electricity costs, and help manage waste streams. Some organizations choose to install on-site systems to visually demonstrate their commitment to green power and overall sustainability.

The technologies organizations can use for generating green power on-site include solar (photovoltaic [PV] panels), wind turbines, fuel cells, and biomass combustion. Some facilities might also be able to use recovered methane gas from a landfill or sewage treatment plant.

What are the advantages of on-site renewables?
On-site renewables provide the advantages of reliability and price stability. In addition, when on-site renewables generate more power than is needed at that site, many states allow the excess power to be returned to the electric grid for credit from the local electric utility. This process is known as net-metering.

Installing on-site systems requires careful planning and, often, substantial capital investments. However, many states — as well as the federal government — provide both tax and funding incentives for on-site systems.

On-site Generation Systems
Benefits
  • Provides a predictable fixed price for electricity over the life of the system.
  • Supplies a visible and tangible environmental commitment to stakeholders.
  • Is easily communicated to and understood by stakeholders.
  • Generates clean, renewable electricity at point-of-use.
  • Can be scalable to meet your objectives.
  • Supports local economies and job creation.
Additional Considerations
  • Might be limited to states where financial incentives and high energy costs coexist, in order to achieve a financial return on the system within a specific timeframe.
  • Can require a high upfront investment.
  • Require maintenance over the life of the system.
  • Involves more upfront planning and project management resources.
  • System owners must retain RECs associated with system in order to make environmental claims.

One option for generating electricity on-site is to enter into a Solar Power Purchase Agreement (SPPA). SPPAs are financial arrangements in which a third-party developer owns, operates, and maintains the photovoltaic (PV) system, and a host customer agrees to site the system on its roof or elsewhere on its property and purchases the system's electric output from the solar services provider for a predetermined period. Learn more about SPPAs.

Partnership Perspective
Your organization can use one or more of the above product options to satisfy EPA's Partnership Requirements (PDF) (19 pp, 520K, About PDF). You should ensure that you retain, and preferably retire, all associated benefits (typically through RECs) in the name of your organization.

Resources
Many resources are available that provide additional details about green power products:

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