I received a letter from my electric power company recently encouraging me to sign up for the company’s “Green Generation” program. If I joined the “Green Team”, I could purchase energy generated from wind power and landfill gas for a mere .01667 cents per kilowatt hour. I could also purchase Green Blocks instead at $2.50 per block. I could purchase as many of these blocks as I want because it is not related to my actual energy usage. I like to try to do what I can for environment. I recycle. I drive a fuel efficient car. I’ve signed up for paperless statements. Why not use environmentally friendly electricity?
Then I ran the numbers. Last month, my household consumed 1,363 kwh of electricity. The .01667/kwh rate is in addition to my regular utilization rate. So it would cost me an additional $22.73 per month to join the Green Team program. The utility company requires a 12 month commitment to program, so I would end up spending about $272.00 to join. Seemed a little steep to me.
I read the Green Generation FAQ. It seems I wouldn’t actually receive this green energy directly to my house. You see, the logistics just don’t work. They can’t take power from one specific place and send it to another specific place. Instead, the electricity generated by this initiative will go to the power company’s grid and will be distributed to all customers. So basically I would be subsidizing everyone else’s power.
I found it interesting that part of the alternative energy comes from landfill gas. Funny, I thought I had already paid to have someone take that garbage away from my house. And now I’m supposed to pay for it again to come back into my house?
I understand that the energy company has start-up costs associated with using alternate energy sources. Overall, I believe the program is good idea and in the long run everyone will benefit. But a few things still bother me. Aren’t wind and garbage free? Once the infrastructure is in place, won’t the cost of energy go down? Will I get a refund of the money I put into the Green Generation program once the program is fully operational? And what about the people who didn’t put any money in the program? Will they still be allowed to use the grid even thought they didn’t pay for it?
So to sum it up, I would pay $22 a month to pay for landfill gas that is generated from my own garbage. Then I would still be using the same electricity that I have already been using. Even the Green Block program, which would cost at least $30 a year, is not appealing since I don’t get any direct benefit for my money. Maybe if customers got something for participation they would be more likely to contribute. How about a tax deduction? Hybrid car buyers get one. Maybe green energy supporters could get better response time during power outages? Could we even get a coupon for a cup of coffee for our trouble? Anything? Buying green energy just because it’s the right thing to do doesn’t seem like quite enough.
Image courtesy of nickwheeleroz