Pennsylvania Renewable Electricity
If you live in Pennsylvania, you have had the right to choose your own energy retailer since 1997. However, you might not have even noticed this power, since all rates had been capped through 2010. Now the playing field is open; you can choose among providers offering all types of different packages.
One option available to businesses and homeowners is the purchase of renewable electricity. You can choose among renewable electricity providers in your area simply by typing your zip code into the box above. Your end supplier will still be a utility like PECO, but you are allowed to choose any company from the list to supply the electricity to them.
If you want to spend some extra time and money in your search for renewable energy, you can set up your own system for generating power on your own property. This route requires a large initial investment, but may pay off well in the long run.
About Renewable Electricity in PA
A law passed in 2004 creates mandates for the production of PA renewable electricity. Specifically, it requires that energy retails sell electricity with at least 18% renewable sources (and fines them for noncompliance). The law doesn’t take full effect until 2020, but the expected percentage of renewable energy increases from year to year. Nevertheless, there are already some suppliers that offer 18% or much more renewable electricity.
Another important support of PA renewable electricity is the Sustainable Energy Fund. This fund is actually four sums of money, controlled by different reorganized electric companies. It has provided large amounts of money, in the form of loans and grants, for the purpose of developing renewable sources of energy within the state.
The primary source of renewable electricity in Pennsylvania is hydroelectric power. This power comes mostly from dams built across rivers like the Susquehanna. Although of course the construction of a dam does not leave the natural environment completely intact, it is relatively less harmful than other sources of power. Also, hydroelectric power is a renewable source of energy: once the dam has been built, it keeps producing electricity without large ongoing costs. More power is still generated by coal, but this state of affairs may not last forever.
Pennsylvania also produces a fair amount of solar electricity. This sector is growing rapidly, in part because of statewide incentives. The Sustainable Energy Fund and the 2020 mandate both include special provisions to specifically encourage the development of solar power.
Providers of Pennsylvania Renewable Electricity
There is a long list of companies that can provide Pennsylvanians with electricity, and many of these offer renewable options. Here are a few companies from which you can buy your renewable electricity:
- The Energy Cooperative This Philadelphia-based non-profit offers green electricity at affordable prices. This member-owned cooperative asks for a small annual membership fee, which enables homeowners to vote and participate in meetings for the cooperative. Dues waivers are available for people who may not immediately have the funds for membership. Most of the cooperative’s energy comes from a low-impact hydroelectric power plant in Huntington County. It also uses some photovoltaic systems and some wind turbines.
- Community Energy Community Energy, Inc., was founded in 1999 as an economically competitive source of renewable energy in Pennsylvania. It relies primarily on wind farms and has been responsible for the construction of many new wind farms in the area. The company was owned for a few years by Iberdrola Renewables, but has recently returned to independent status.
- Viridian Inc Viridian was founded in 2009. It operates in Pennsylvania as well as several other mid-Atlantic states. It offers two different energy packages. “Everyday Green” contains 20% renewable electricity; “Pure Green” comes from 100% renewable sources. Both programs are fixed-rate, which means they vary with the market.
Remember, for a full list, all you need to do is enter your zip code into the box above!
Do It Yourself
If you choose to set up renewable electricity unilaterally, you always have the option of installing new technology on your own property. This might take the form of solar, wind, or geothermal power. If you do establish your own system you can use it to supplement power from the grid; or, if you generate enough, you may be able to sell electricity back to a distributor.
The federal government offers a 30% renewable electricity credit to homeowners who choose to develop their own renewable electricity systems. This means the amount you owe to the government will be reduced by 30% of the cost of materials and installation. The state of Pennsylvania also offers per-Watt subsidies specifically for the establishment of solar power systems.
This initial subsidy, even if you receive money from the state and federal government, won’t be enough to cover your expenses. But you’ll be making money in the long run when, year after year, you owe no money on your electricity bills.