I first heard that Whole Foods was going to be selling a Wind Power Card ($15 family – 750 kWh + $5 individual – 250 kWh) from eco-entrepreneur Shea, a co-founder of Renewable Choice Energy (the provider of the Wind Power Card). What did I do? I went a bought a $15 card to offset my blog. I love Typepad, but they determine my hosting situation and I can’t change that, so I wanted to offset my blog’s impact. I’m not sure how long this will last, but that’s okay because I’ll find out eventually. The big question is, however: Should you buy a card? The bloggers at boingboing equivocated, but everyone else in the country seems to think it’s a good thing. I’ll explain what I know, but I hope you’ll continue to research the issue of offsets and wind energy credits, if you have an interest.
First, if you want to power your home with renewable energy, you can do a few things: green build your home, install solar panels, put a wind turbine in your backyard, use energy-efficient appliances, etc. After you reduce your own reliance on the grid in these ways (aka, minimize your own environmental footprint), you have a few more options: (1) you could buy electricity from an eco-conscious company, like Green Mountain Energy, that feeds clean energy into the distribution grids, or (2) you could buy electricity from your regular company and purchase renewable energy credits in amounts that offset your energy usage. There are slight differences with each choice. Importantly, whenever energy producers create energy, it is routed into the regional/national grid, and that grid distributes the power to individual homes. As a result, the energy grid conducts various types of energy such as coal (primarily), solar, wind, water, biomass, natural gas, geothermal, etc. Depending on your location, you will receive a concoction of energy from all these types of sources, but the national average concoction = Coal – 52%, Nuclear – 20%, Natural Gas – 16%, Large Hydroelectric – 7%, Oil – 3%, and Renewables – 2%.
With wind energy credits, and more particularly, the Wind Power Card, you’re not reducing or affecting the electricity bill that comes in the mail each month. What you do is ensure that the electricity you use is replaced onto the national power grid with wind energy. Every time you buy renewable energy credits, less non-renewable energy is fed into the grid. This concept is hard to grock, but it’s true. Think of this, though: you’re paying a premium, but if you have money to do this, why not support clean energy generation and pay for renewable energy credits? We can’t neglect the negative externalities (those that aren’t reflective in pricing) of dirty energy such as coal. Our energy decision will increasingly impact the way we live in the future.
A Closer Look at Whole Foods Wind Power Card Displays [Sustainablog]
Boing Boing Mischaracterizes Wind Credits, WF Wind Cards [Sustainablog]
Support for Wind Power Picking Up Speed [Nurenberg - CNN]
American Wind Energy Association on Renewable Energy Credits [AWEA.org]
Renewable Energy Credits + Offsets Certification [Texas PUCT]