Can You Get 100% Renewable Electricity?

Accessing 100% renewable electricity is one of the most important shifts to helping solve the climate crisis. The shift to electric cars, the air conditioning to deal with the summer heat wave, and expanded use of re-chargeable computing devices are all gobbling up more electricity. According to the US Energy Information Administration, The highest level of total annual electricity consumption occurred in 2018, when a relatively warm summer and cold winter in most regions of the country contributed to record high residential electricity use with an increase of about 7% over 2017. The growth of consumption in the US has been slowing in the last 10 years, which is a good sign. However, in 2019, only 17% of electricity in the US was generated from renewable sources.

As I have shared before, through Green Newton and Eversource we get 100% renewable electricity. With this in mind, I was curious to see what is available to other consumers in the US. I reviewed the top 5 electrical utilities in the US. This includes: Pacific Gas & Electric Co, Southern California Edison, Florida Power & Light, Commonwealth Edison Co, Consolidated Edison Co. Collectively, these companies service tens of millions of consumers.

Today, 33 percent of Pacific Gas & Electric Co delivered electricity comes from renewable sources, including solar, wind, geothermal, small hydroelectric and various forms of bioenergy. PG&E reached California’s 2020 renewable energy goal three years ahead of schedule. PG&E offers renewable options that include a choice of 50% or 100% renewable. It was easy to find the options and clear the choices for consumers.

In reviewing the services from Southern California Edison, they have a program for owners of electric cars, and for consumers who want to install solar. However, I did not find any options to buy 100% renewable electricity. While they may provide these choices, they are not highlighted well on their web site. There is a fair bit of marketing on their climate change initiatives, but hard to find concrete details. I would have expected something closer to PG&E, since they are also regulated in California.

Renewable energy fueled about 3% of Florida’s electricity net generation in 2018. Given its location in the sun, it would seem like a tremendous opportunity to increase the use of solar power. Florida Power and Light has fairly creative approach with its SolarTogether program. Consumers select how much of their electricity bill they want to be generated by solar, and pay a subscription fee. This funds solar energy developments developed and managed by Florida Power and Light, with credits back to the consumer. As the cost of solar power generation declines, the credits increase. While innovative, it is a bit confusing for the average consumer.

Commonwealth Edison, commonly known as ComEd, is the largest electric utility in Illinois, and has yet another model. They do not generate any electricity, but provide the delivery from a set of approved suppliers. There was very little information on options for 100% renewable, and that could be based on the consumer selecting the right supplier. ComEd does have options for consumers that want to invest in solar and sell electricity back into the grid.

Consolidated Edison Co is similar to ComEd, in that they provide the delivery of the electricity giving the consumer the choice of which provider they use for the generation. Consolidated Edison does a much better job highlighting the options for renewal energy options in their description for selecting a provider.

In reviewing the options from these companies, it is very interesting to learn their different models, and how prominent they feature options for green energy. It can be confusing and take some research, but ultimately, most consumers in the US have options to select 100% renewable energy. Check out your local provider and switch today. The incremental cost is not that significant. With renewable energy prices hit record lows, the climate change benefits will only increase.

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