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Green Power Partnership

Frequently Asked Questions

EPA's Green Power Partnership

Q. What is the Green Power Partnership?

A. EPA's Green Power Partnership is a voluntary program that encourages organizations to buy green power as a way to reduce the environmental impacts associated with purchased electricity use. Started in 2001, the Partnership currently works with more than a thousand partners voluntarily purchasing billions of kilowatt-hours of green power annually. Partners include a wide variety of leading organizations such as Fortune 500® companies, small and medium sized businesses, local, state, tribal, and federal governments, and colleges and universities.

EPA's Green Power Communities and EPA's Green Power Community Challenge

Q. What is the Green Power Community Challenge?

A. The Green Power Community Challenge is a national, year-long campaign to encourage communities coast-to-coast to use renewable energy to fight climate change. The campaign is designed to expand upon the successes of EPA Green Power Communities, aiming to add new Green Power Communities across the United States. As part of the national campaign, communities will compete to see which one can use the most green power and which one can achieve the highest green power percentage of total electricity use. There will be a separate award for each category with national recognition and special attention from EPA. The winners will be announced in September.

Q. What is the goal of the Green Power Community Challenge?

A. The goal is to add new Green Power Communities across the U.S. and increase the amount of green power used by these communities. Through the national campaign, EPA is working to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions and expand the nation's renewable energy supply by driving demand for green power among U.S. communities.

Q. Why should a community take the Challenge?

A. For most municipalities, electricity usage is the single-largest source of greenhouse gas emissions. By using green power and taking the Green Power Community Challenge, a local government can dramatically reduce its carbon footprint, demonstrate civic leadership, increase citizen pride, improve public health, and enhance its community image. Moreover, by answering this call to action, a community, its citizens, and businesses can collectively move the nation to a clean energy future and inspire other communities to do the same.

Q. How does a community participate?

A. To participate in the Challenge, a community first needs to partner with EPA and become a Green Power Community. Becoming a Green Power Community is easy:

  1. The local government must join the Green Power Partnership as a partner and buy green power in amounts that meet EPA minimum purchase requirements. The local government can be a town, village, city, county, or tribal government.
  2. The local government (or its designee) initiates a community-wide green power campaign to encourage local businesses and residents to collectively purchase or produce green power on-site in amounts that meet EPA requirements (as seen below). Working with a local utility or power provider, a community should determine the amount of electricity used within the community boundary (city limits). The community must collectively use green power in amounts that meet or exceed the corresponding percentage for the matching baseload electricity use level.

    Green Power Community Purchase Requirements
    If your community's annual electricity use in kilowatt-hours is ... Your community must, at a minimum, use this much green power to qualify as a GPC
    ≥ 100,000,001 kWh 3% of your use
    10,000,001-100,000,000 kWh 5% of your use
    1,000,001 - 10,000,000 kWh 10% of your use
    ≤ 1,000,000 kWh 20% of your use

    EPA is available to provide technical and outreach assistance.
  3. The local government must submit a GPC Partnership Agreement. Once a community becomes a GPC, it will be able to participate in the Challenge.

Q. How many EPA Green Power Communities (GPCs) are there?

A. 48 as of September 1, 2013.

Q. Will all of those communities participate in the Challenge?

A. Yes, all GPCs participate in the Challenge automatically.

Q. How will EPA determine the winners?

A. Over the span of a year, GPCs will track and report their collective green power use and green power percentage of total electricity use. GPCs will be ranked according to the two award categories on EPA's website on a quarterly schedule. At the conclusion of the Challenge, the community that has the highest green power percentage and the community that uses the most kilowatt-hours (kWh) of green power will receive national recognition and special attention from EPA.

View the Green Power Community Challenge Timeline.

Q. How much green power are these communities purchasing?

A. As of September 1, 2013, there are 48 EPA Green Power Communities collectively buying more than six billion kWh of green power annually, equivalent to the carbon dioxide emissions (CO2) from the electricity use of more than 636,000 average American homes.

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Green Power

Q. How does EPA define green power?

A. Green power is environmentally preferable electricity produced from a subset of renewable resources, including solar, wind, geothermal, biogas, eligible biomass, and low-impact hydropower.

Q. What makes it greener than other power?

A. Green power resources produce electricity with an environmental profile superior to conventional power technologies, and produce no fossil-fuel based greenhouse gass emissions, helping protect human health and the environment.

Q. Is green power available in most of the U.S., or only in certain areas?

A. Green power is available to every single U.S. business, institution, government agency, homeowner, apartment dweller and every other electricity user. There are three green power product options available:

  1. Currently, more than 800 utilities offer green power products to customers. These products allow customers to purchase some portion of their electricity from renewable resources—almost always at a higher price, but sometimes offered with price-hedging benefits.
  2. Second, regardless of whether a buyer has access to a utility green power product, any consumer or business in the U.S. can buy green power through renewable energy certificates (RECs). A REC is a certificate that represents the generation of one megawatt-hour (MWh) of electricity from an eligible source of renewable energy and its associated environmental attributes. RECs can be acquired separately from electricity service. Combined, RECs and plain grid electricity produce green power.
  3. Last, a prospective buyer can also investigate the option of installing an on-site system on their business or residence.

    Buyers can learn more about these options by downloading The Guide to Purchasing Green Power (PDF) (58 pp, 2MB, About PDF) from the Green Power Partnership website. The guide helps explain the buying process as well as the benefits of each product option.

    To assist prospective buyers, the Green Power Locator offers a state-by-state, list of local utilities and renewable energy certificate marketers that provide green power products in their area. A link to the Green Power Locator can be found on the Green Power Partnership's homepage at www.epa.gov/greenpower.

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