Direct purchasing allows you to access greener sourcing of electricity, delivered in the same way you receive electricity today. As demands for green electricity rise, the sources of power that comprise the electric generation mix will change to meet that demand. Since most power companies allow you to choose your electricity source and many of the choices do not increase costs, state entities should consider this option. Learn more about switching to green power, including benefits, cost and how to purchase: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Green Power Partnership
Purchasing or generating renewable electricity provides financial support for new green energy developments, such as distributed PV in communities, district energy options and larger installations such as wind and PV farms. This approach can be valuable to a business or a government entity especially if renewable energy is part of their brand or a way to illustrate their support of environmental goals. Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) are the instrument that electricity consumers must use to substantiate renewable electricity use claims. RECs are issued when one megawatt-hour (MWh) of electricity is generated and delivered to the electricity grid from a renewable energy resource. Regardless of how consumers purchase or generate renewable electricity, to make claims about using renewable electricity they must own the RECs and retire or cancel them so that those RECs cannot be used again and claimed by someone else. REC ownership is tracked in an electronic registry, which provides critical market infrastructure in support of market transparency, credibility and verification of renewable energy and environmental claims.
Want more information about RECs? Learn more at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) website.
District Energy systems produce steam, hot water or chilled water at a central plant that is then delivered to individual buildings for space heating, domestic hot water heating, and air conditioning.
Some companies will create district solutions and sell shares of the electricity produced. Others function as a co-op, developing the energy system only when they have the right number of participants. This market approach is changing very fast and anyone interested in district solutions should research the current offerings, including:
New York State's Five Cities Energy Plans are an expansion of the BuildSmart NY initiative and seeks to develop strategies for the cities of Albany, Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, and Yonkers to comprehensively reduce energy consumption citywide.
Community Solar or Wind: A community renewable project - sometimes referred to as a solar garden or shared renewable energy plant - is a renewable power plant whose electricity is shared by more than one household.
One option to produce and use renewable energy is to buy the production equipment and have a professional design and install it on or near your building. Installing renewable energy sources is easier to accommodate in a new building project, but many existing buildings can install equipment on adjacent property or a roof, provided the structure is strong enough to support the weight. One should also consider system maintenance – for example, some panels are lasting longer than their 20-year expected life performance and may need repair at some point throughout its lifespan.
Another option to renewable energy ownership is to enter into a third party purchasing agreement. This agreement would allow for the purchase of renewable energy for a set term, sometimes up to 20 years. In this model, the contractor has ownership over the physical equipment, while the entity would either be purchasing the generation or paying a predetermined rate.
The following are several on-site renewable energy options:
There are other options for incorporating renewable energy into your operations, such as Power Purchase Agreements and leases. For more information, visit:
Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Case Study on Photovoltaics: Fort Niagara State Park Goes Green with Solar Photovoltaic System