Renewable Electricity Businesses
The renewable electricity businesses are themselves thriving, representing one of the fastest-growing sectors of the United States economy. This expansion is due to a combination of rapid technological development, abundant federal and state renewable electricity credits, and the actually large potential available to those willing to harness renewable resources for energy.
There are two major types of renewable electricity businesses: electricity suppliers and technology installers. They themselves provide renewable electricity for businesses as well as for homeowners.
Renewable electricity providers
Across the United States, the energy grid has become more open. Energy customers–residential, commercial, and industrial–increasingly have the opportunity to detach the source of their energy from their utility company. Although typically only one or a few companies supply electricity directly to the consumer, these companies are no longer allowed a vertical monopoly on the power supply. Their customers are allowed to change the default setting and select a different company as the provider of the original energy.
Many of the companies available to provide this energy specialize in renewable electricity. They may offer some very specific product, such as solar electricity from a particular area, or they may offer some broad composite guaranteed to have renewable sources. They may also offer plans with different fractions of electricity from renewable sources: 20% or 50% instead of completely renewable. The market is complicated, since companies can buy and sell renewable electricity to each other; it can be hard to tell who is actually producing what.
If you enter your zip code into the box above, you can see a list of renewable electricity providers serving your area. You can read about them and compare their different energy packages. If you find any of them appealing—and most plans will seem better than the default energy plan—you can instruct your utility company to supply you with energy that originates with one of these businesses.
Renewable electricity installers
A different set of renewable electricity businesses will set up technology so that their customers have direct access to green electricity. This type of business has different operating needs than a centralized electricity producer. Rather than getting together a large power supply and then marketing it to consumers, these companies must be able to set up what is essentially a small power plant on someone else’s property. They might specialize in large or small setups, or they might do the whole range.
Investing in renewable energy
Installing a renewable energy source requires an investment on the part of the consumer. A homeowner might pay a solar panel installer a large amount of money up front to install photovoltaic systems on her roof, spending a large quantity of money now but expecting to make it back later in savings on energy bills.
It is this type of installation to which the large federal tax credit pertains. The purchase of photovoltaic panels would be subsidized at 30% of its cost by a federal solar rebate, as well as by other incentives that might pertain locally.
Many large U.S. companies have successfully switched to completely renewable energy plans. These companies prove that a business model using green energy is something not only viable, but beneficial, especially when one considers the positive response from consumers. The largest U.S. business using entirely green energy, based on total consumption, are these:
- Kohl’s Department Stores purchases green electricity from several different providers, and owns 107 solar power systems across the U.S. Many of their retail stores have their own photovoltaic systems installed.
- Whole Foods Market was the first retail chain to get 100% of its energy from wind farms, and now also uses solar electricity at some locations via systems installed at individual retail stores.
- HSBC North America has been climate-neutral since 2005 through its purchase of wind-based renewable electricity credits, and also emphasizes green design at many of its retail and office locations.
Renewable energy for entrepreneurs
New businesses may wish to incorporate green electricity into their business model from the start. Whether investigating commercial renewable energy, renewable energy for retail, or renewable energy for manufacturing, you will be able to find renewable electricity businesses from whom you can purchase green energy, or who will help you set up your own power-generating systems.
Be sure to investigate the renewable energy credits offered by the federal government and also by many state and local governments to businesses that install power-generating systems.