Direct Purchasing of Green Power

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

Voluntary Renewable Energy Purchasing

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

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:

  • What companies are supporting this work;
  • How the energy is "owned" by the participants; and
  • How that ownership can or cannot be transferred if your business changes location or an individual sells a home.

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.

Renewable Energy Systems

Purchase of Solar, Solar Thermal, Wind Turbines, or Other Renewable Energy Systems

One option to support the generation of 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, solar systems typically last 25 years or more but there will be some system maintenance during that time.

Another option to support renewable energy is to enter into a third party purchasing agreement. This agreement would be for a set term, typically 20 or 25 years.  In this model, the contractor has ownership over the physical equipment, while the entity would pay a predetermined rate for the power from it for the duration of the agreement.

In addition, for smaller facilities with non-demand meters, residential service classification (typically referred to as SC-1 residential) or non-residential, non-demand service classification (typically referred to as SC-2 non-residential, non-demand), OGS has recently released a Community Solar contract. This allows authorized users to contract for a subscription with a community solar provider for discounted credits on their utility bill. This model allows your agency to support solar power generation in New York State without upfront cost or having to install a system at your facility.

The following are several on-site renewable energy options:

  • Solar: Solar is the most common on-site renewable energy installation, and can be installed on a roof or ground mounted on a structure. Some solar structures do double-duty as carports over parking lots.
  • Solar Thermal: Solar thermal is an on-site renewable energy strategy, best suited for buildings with significant year-round demand for hot water, such as residence halls or multi-unit housing. Solar thermal systems use the heat of the sun to pre-heat water for showers, dishwashers, and laundry, as well as any consistent building heating loads.
  • Wind Turbines: Thanks to the continued innovation of new technologies, wind power has become a viable energy source. Today, large commercial wind sites are common, but there are also applications for smaller wind turbines at residential, industrial, agricultural, and educational sites. Small wind energy systems allow farmers, individual landowners, and business people to support clean energy and preserve their land for the benefit of the whole community.


There are other options for developing on-site projects, such as Power Purchase Agreements and leases. For more information, visit the following renewable energy resources: