Green Power Partnership
Types of Products
Buying Green Power
- Renewable Energy Certificates
- Utility Products
- On-site Generation Systems
- Partnership Perspective
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|
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.
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|
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.
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.
Many resources are available that provide additional details about green power products:
- The Guide to Purchasing Green Power (PDF) (58 pp, 2MB) is referenced throughout this Web site, and contains detailed information on planning an on-site system.
- On-site renewable generation is a subset of distributed energy generation. For more information, please visit the Department of Energy's Renewable Energy website.
- Renewable Electricity: How Do You Know You Are Using It? (PDF) (2 pp, 543K) This 2015 National Renewable Energy Laboratory fact sheet provides an overview of renewable energy certificates (RECs).
- North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP). NABCEP offers national, credentialing and certifications for renewable energy professionals. NABCEP administers a certification program for solar electric installers, known as the NABCEP™ Solar PV Installer Certification. NABCEP now includes solar thermal certification credentials.
- State Contractors License Board. When working with a system developer or installer, it is good practice to ensure that your contractor has the required license and insurance to perform the work.
- The Database of State Incentives for Renewable Energy (DSIRE) is a comprehensive source of information on the status of state programs and incentives promoting renewable energy, including information on financial incentives and net metering policies, as well as related awareness and investment programs.
- Green-e Solar FAQ and Claims (PDF) (8 pp, 42K) fact sheet. Read this fact sheet for more information on solar, RECs, and associated claims.