By Yogesh Mankani
When green energy options are underfunded, they don’t get equal time in the marketplace. Consumers might not even know that green energy alternatives are available. Because of this, consumer will choose only what they know – traditional energy sources like coal, oil, and natural gas.
However, electric choice is changing all of that. Electric choice is a program available in 17 states and the District of Columbia. Now consumers have a choice as to what kind of energy powers their home. Not only will this competition help lower energy prices for the end user, but it lets consumers vote their conscience and support what they think is the best energy source.
What is Energy Choice?
Right now, most consumers pay their utility bill without giving it much thought. They know they receive energy to their homes to power their TVs, their hot water tank, and other electronics. However, they typically don’t understand where the energy comes from. Most energy is generated by fossil fuels. Oil, natural gas, and coal represent the major sources of energy in the world.
However, green options, like solar, wind, and hydro-electric have made their way onto the scene. These energy sources represent only a fraction of the total energy produced in the marketplace, but they’re being given the opportunity to compete with the “big boys.”
Benefits of choice
When you choose your supplier, you’re voting with your wallet. If you believe that green energies are more sustainable than oil, natural gas, and coal, then you can send a message to these companies by purchasing your power from green energies like wind and solar.
It’s sort of like choosing the right grocery store when you go shopping. Some grocery stores will have what you need. Others won’t. Either way, you get to decide which stores get your business. In the energy industry, it’s traditionally not that easy. For one thing, there are existing infrastructures that are owned by power companies with close ties to the fossil fuel industry.
You can overcome this through new deregulation in the energy industry since power companies now have to offer you a choice of energy suppliers. Yes, your power company will still deliver the energy, but you can choose to source your power from whomever you think will provide you with the best energy.
The three main sources of green energy include wind, solar, and hydro-electric.
Wind Energy – Windmills draw their power from the sky. Wind turns windmill blades which, in turn, pass through to a generator. The mechanical energy of the windmill blades is transformed into electrical energy. It’s not a new concept though. Wind energy is something humans have used in some form since at least 5,000 B.C. – when it was used to power boats on the Nile River. Today, windmills are used to power homes. While wind turbines tend to perform best where there is constant wind, modern windmills are self-adjusting and will always attempt to face the wind to generate energy. With wind power, you can expect monthly savings between $50 and several hundred dollars depending on where you live.
Solar Energy - Harness the power of the sun. NASA has been making use of solar energy for years (on satellites in space). Massive solar panels trap light and heat from the sun and convert it to electrical energy. Again, this kind of thing isn’t new. It’s thousands of years of years old. Today, however, highly efficient systems are capable of powering entire homes, office buildings, and experiments have been used to test the technology on vehicles. With this as your energy source, depending on where you live, you could save anywhere from $50 to well over $100 per month by switching to solar.
Hydro-Electric – Release the power of a river, and you’ll have almost unlimited power at your fingertips. Hydro-electric has been used for many years to generate electricity for homes and offices. This form of energy has been in use, in one way or another, for at least 2,000 years. It was the Greeks that first used it to grind wheat. Today, we use it to power electrical gadgets. If you live in the western part of the U.S., you could see excellent savings on your electricity bill since this is where much of the hydro-power is generated.
What you choose is largely dependent on where you live. Due to terrain restrictions, and seasonal variations, solar panels just aren’t suitable for some areas of the U.S. Likewise, windmills only do well where there is sufficient wind. For hydro to work, you need a water source that can be harnessed. In that sense, your choices are limited. Even so, you have more than just coal, natural gas, and oil to choose from. Choose wisely, and reap the savings.
Yogesh Mankani is an environmental and energy supply researcher. He enjoys sharing his findings and insights on various environmental blogs. Visit www.Saveonenergy.com to learn more.