Offsetting home and business electricity with green tags

Green tags are also commonly known as Renewable Energy Credits or Tradable Renewable Certificates.  If your electricity provider can’t offer you a renewable energy alternative directly, green tags can be purchased from many certified vendors to offset the electricity you use with wind or solar power.

How do green tags work?

Each green tag you buy pays for certain amount of electricity to be produced by a wind farm, solar array or other renewable energy source. You still pay for your electricity from your current provider, but your green tag purchase allows for X watts of renewable sourced power to be fed into the grid, thereby offsetting the amount that needs to be fed in by non-renewable means.

Does this mean you pay double for electricity?

No. The cost of a green tag is the difference between how much it costs to produce a kilowatt of renewable electricity vs. a kilowatt of electricity sourced by traditional, environmentally damaging methods such as coal fired or gas powered generation.

For example; if you currently pay 10c per kilowatt hour and the cost to produce green power is 12c a kilowatt, then what you are paying for in the tag is 2c difference per kilowatt – this is known as “offsetting”.

Green tag demand helps decrease renewable energy prices

The idea is that if enough people pay the bit extra for green energy through tradable renewable certificates, the more wind farms can be built and the cheaper earth friendly electricity will become over time. Ultimately; less coal, gas or other environmentally damaging sources will be used for electricity generation.

Just through existing demand, wind energy now costs less than a fifth of what it did in the late 90’s; so we could realistically expect that wind generated electricity will wind up costing the same as coal fired electricity generation does within a few years; which is very good news.

Green tags and global thinking

When thinking about green tags and offsetting, think global. Don’t be concerned that the  electricity you offset through buying green tags isn’t being piped directly to your home; you’ve still paid for the equivalent amount of clean, green kilowatts to be fed into the grid. With carbon dioxide from electricity generation affecting the entire planet in terms of global warming, it really doesn’t matter if your electricity comes from one company at one end of the country and your green tags are purchased through wind or solar company at the other end of your country – or even overseas; the net result is the same – less CO2 in the atmosphere.

Even if you are able to source renewable energy directly through your provider, it’s not as though there’s a switch at the relay station with your house number on it that has “renewable” and “non renewable” options on it – it just means that what you pay allows for X kilowatts to be fed into the grid from a renewable source and that source has a direct relationship with your electricity provider. Think of the grid as a pool, with many streams feeding into it, and you drawing from that pool.

While buying green tags is still a little more expensive than traditionally sourced electricity, it’s also a very good opportunity for your family to take a careful look at your consumption and taking steps to trim it back a little. Bear in mind that living a greener life isn’t just about choices of products and services you buy, it’s also about reducing consumption in your life overall.

Assessing green tag vendors

When searching for a green tag provider, ensure the vendor is accredited by the overseeing government or industry authority in your country. If green tags aren’t available in your country; you can buy them from a USA vendor – again, the net effect is the same – more solar or wind power being fed into any grid means less CO2 in the atmosphere overall.

Also check for *how* the electricity is being generated – opt for wind or solar if you can afford it. Other “renewable” energy sources such as hydro-electric usually involve substantial environmental damage; e.g. the destruction of habitat to allow for the construction of dams.