The term "green power" pretty much refers to electricity supplied, at least in part, from renewable energy sources like wind and solar power, geothermal, hydropower, and various forms of biomass. More and more, we are being given options about which type of power we choose, as markets open to competition and as utility companies begin to develop their own sources for cleaner, renewable energy. According to the Green Power Network, a DOE Energy Efficiency......and Renewable Energy effort, almost half of all retail customers in the United States now have an option for purchasing a green power product directly from their electricity supplier. But even if you're not included in that stat, there are still ways that you can support the development of renewable resources.
If competition for green power is already allowed in your state, you may have direct access to an alternative electricity supplier. EERE has lots of info that can help you find out the status of your state.
But fret not if you can't subscribe directly yet—you can still purchase green power through your utility company in a couple of different ways.
More than 500 regulated utilities spanning more than 30 states offer "green pricing programs", which can help you hop on the hybrid bandwagon. Green pricing allows you to support a provider's investment in renewable energy by paying a premium on your bill in order to help defray the costs of acquiring renewable energy resources.
We know. Why should you have to pay for them to acquire it? Well, think of it as a donation to the common good, or alms for the poor old earth, or charity like the change you probably don't throw in the church basket. (Generally, premiums are about 1-10 cents/kWh, so depending on where you live this may or may not be a viable economic alternative for you.) EERE has a table of green pricing programs that shows what's up with premiums in your area.
O.K., so even if you can't get green power through a local provider *and* they don't offer premiums, you can still contribute to this noble effort by purchasing green energy certificates. These certificates, sometimes called green tags or tradable renewable certificates (TRCs), represent the environmental attributes of power generated from renewably-sourced plants. What you pay for when you buy renewable energy certificates is the benefit of displacing other non-renewable sources from the regional or national electric grid. That is to say, when you purchase renewable certificates, you are increasing demand for additional renewable generation and also reducing global climate change and regional air pollution. At the same time, you're also helping to expand the reach of the "green" provider issuing the certificates. Which is to say, you're being a good doobee. Ed Note: Doobee? Apologies in advance...we have no idea what the crazy MO is saying either..