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Frequently Asked Questions

About Electricity Generation in New England

About choosing Green Electricity

About the New England Wind program for everyone


 

About Electricity Generation in New England

What are the sources of my electricity?

In Rhode Island, over 80% of our electricity is generated from fossil fuels and nuclear power resources, causing significant harm to both the environment and public health.  Much of the remaining 20% comes in the forms of trash-to-energy, large hydro projects, various, unidentified types of power imported from other regions, and other sources that are not environmentally friendly.  Your utility is required to send you a quarterly disclosure label which describes in detail the energy sources and emissions resulting from the electricity you use.

 

How does my electricity get to me?

All New England states share one single network of power lines, called the electric grid. Generators from all over the region feed power into this grid and energy is drawn out on an as-needed basis. Since our electricity is based on a regional mix, the electricity that is actually delivered to your home is determined by which power generators are located closest to you.

The New England electric grid is managed and operated by an Independent System Operator (ISO-NE). ISO-NE is responsible for managing the schedule of which power plants should run when, so there’s always enough power being generated to meet the needs of the region.

 

About choosing Green Electricity

What is renewable/green energy?

Energy that is produced from rapidly replenishable or infinite sources such as the sun, wind and water is considered renewable. Electricity generated from renewable sources has a lower impact on public health and the environment than that produced from fossil fuel and nuclear resources for many reasons, including:

1) It emits little or no air emissions;
2) It does not produce harmful radioactive waste;
3) Its fuel sources do not need to be mined or extracted from the earth.

 

What are "green attributes" or "renewable energy certificates?"

Green attributes are the environmental characteristics of a renewable energy resource. For every one megawatt-hour unit of electricity that is generated in New England, a corresponding "certificate" is produced. Each certificate documents the characteristics of the power source, information such as air emissions, fuel source, and date the facility began operating.  When these certificates are produced by a renewable resource, they are frequently referred to as Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs).  The Independent System Operator of New England (ISO-NE) issues and tracks these certificates through a region-wide accounting system, called the Generation Information System (GIS), which ensures that no double counting is allowed. There is market demand for certificates associated with renewable energy resources because consumers wish to support cleaner energy and electric utilities must meet renewable energy mandates.

When a consumer chooses green power, it means that their green power provider will purchase enough renewable energy certificates to match the customer’s electricity consumption.

 

How do I know renewable electricity will be delivered to my home?

Whether or not you choose to support renewable electricity, you draw upon the "pool" of power that makes up the New England electric grid. While it is physically impossible to distinguish and deliver individual electrons to specific homes or businesses, by choosing green power you are ensuring that renewable electricity is being delivered to the power grid on your behalf, thus creating a cleaner, healthier overall energy mix.

 

How can I support renewable energy? 

There are currently four basic ways you can support renewable electricity: 1) If you are a National Grid customer, you can participate in the GreenUp program by choosing programs like People's Power & Light's New England GreenStart or New England Wind; 2) You can make payments for renewable energy certificates separate from your utility bill (through programs like Mass Energy’s New England Wind); or 3) You can install your own renewable energy system. For businesses, there may also be opportunities to choose renewable electricity from a competitive electricity supplier.

1) Participate in GreenUp if you are a National Grid customer

If you are a National Grid customer, you can participate in the GreenUp program, which enables you to pay for renewable electricity right on your regular monthly utility bill. People's Power & Light works with National Grid, the state’s largest utility, to offer New England GreenStart and New England Wind to residential and small commercial customers through this program. Both of these programs are available directly on your National Grid bill. They differ in the types of renewable energy they support.  As the name suggests, New England Wind exclusively supports wind resources, while New England GreenStart supports an array of technologies, including wind, solar, digester gas (cow power),  and small hydro.  If you are a National Grid customer and are interested in New England GreenStart or New England Wind, click here.

2) Choose Renewable Energy Certificates

Customers that do not have National Grid as their electric utility company can still participate in the New England Wind program completely separate from their utility bill.  This means you can support the same projects included in the New England Wind program offered to National Grid customers.  The only differences are that your payment is not included in your electric bill, and that your contribution is fixed on a monthly or one-time basis, instead of being tied to your monthly electricity consumption. 

3) Install Your Own Renewable Energy System

One of the most direct ways to support the generation of renewable energy resources is to install a system at your own home or business. There are a number of renewable energy technologies available for these purposes, ranging from solar to small-scale wind.  If you think you might be interested in installing your own renewable energy system, feel free to give us a call, and we can help set you in the right direction.

   

What’s it called?

New England GreenStart (through National Grid)

New England Wind (through National Grid)

New England Wind

Who can participate?

All residential and small commercial National Grid electric grid customers in MA and RI

 

Anyone!

What does it support?

75 % small, low-impact hydro, 25% new wind, solar, landfill gas, and anaerobic digester gas (cow power)

100% new wind resources

How much does it cost?

2.4 cents/kWh

3.8 cents/kWh

How do I pay for it?

Just keep paying your electric bill!  The charge will be included on your bill, and National Grid sends this money on to us.

By credit card or check.  You can choose to make a recurring monthly payment or a one time payment.  There is a $5 minimum for monthly donations.

Is it tax-deductible?

Yes!  This does not include the charges you already pay to your utility, however. We will send you a letter showing how much you can deduct when you itemize at the end of the year.

Yes!  We will send you a letter showing how much you can deduct when you itemize at the end of the year.

 

What are "new" resources?

Renewable electricity generating facilities that began operation on or after January 1st, 1998 are considered ‘new’ resources for the purposes of Massachusetts’s and Rhode Island’s environmental mandates.

 

Why is it important to support new resources?

While it is important to support existing renewable facilities in order to keep them operating, you can make the biggest difference by helping to add more renewable energy resources to the system. Support for new renewable energy resources has the greatest impact on our energy mix by driving demand for new projects that will deliver incremental health and environmental benefits, and will help change the way our electricity is made.  Furthermore, since 2003, Massachusetts and Rhode Island have had environmental mandates (called the Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard (RPS) in MA and the Renewable Energy Standard (RES) in RI) which require electric utilities to include a small but gradually increasing percentage of "new" renewable energy in their supply mix. Because electricity companies are required to buy new renewables, when consumers buy them too, more new projects will have to come online in order to satisfy these laws.

 

How do my payments support renewable energy generators?

While many renewable energy resources, especially wind, are becoming increasingly cost competitive with conventional fossil fuels, it is currently still more expensive to generate energy from renewables. Part of this is due to the heavy subsidies traditional fossil fuels receive from our government, as well as the investments already made in our existing power infrastructure. However, the more people who choose cleaner energy, the more competitive renewables will become, helping bring down the cost over time. Another reason why renewable energy costs more is that, since our electric utilities do not include as much renewable energy in their supply portfolio as many of us would like, there are additional transaction costs associated with incorporating these resources.  Your payments help cover for the incremental cost of renewable energy generation now, so that it can be competitive with standard sources of electricity in the future.

About the New England Wind program for everyone

Why does it seem like this is more than one New England Wind program?

There is only one New England Wind program. However, there are two very different ways to  contribute to New England Wind.  Regardless of how you pay, your money is used to support the same Massachusetts and Rhode Island wind projects, and your support is completely tax-deductible.  Customers that have National Grid as an electric provider can opt to support New England Wind right on their monthly bill – just sign up and continue to pay your bill as usual.  A small additional charge for New England Wind will appear on your bill.  Your New England Wind charge for a given month will be your kWh electricity consumption for that month, multiplied by 3.8 cents. For more information on how our programs for National Grid customers work, see About the New England GreenStart and New England Wind programs for National Grid customers.” If you are not served by National Grid for electricity, you do not have this option.  Instead, you  can choose to become a NEW Friend and make a fixed monthly contribution, by check or credit card.  We have provided a calculator here so that you can estimate how much you would need to donate to cover all of your electricity usage, but you can decide the level at which you want to participate.  There is a $5 minimum for monthly donations.
You can also choose to make a one-time contribution to New England Wind.

Whatever happened to the New England Wind Fund?

We first started the New England Wind Fund because we had more demand for wind energy than there were viable wind projects in the area to support.  The New England Wind Fund allowed us to use contributions to support projects that had not yet been constructed.  Because of changes in policy and voluntary support from people like our members, this is no longer the case.  Still, because of the track record we’ve established through our green power programs, we are a credit-worthy purchaser capable of entering into long-term contracts with nascent projects.  This allows us to continue the mission of the New England Wind Fund, while supporting wind power projects in real time.  Until we have spent all the money contributed to the New England Wind Fund, we will be posting annual reports on this web site.

What are the sources for New England Wind?

New England Wind consists only of 100% new wind resources, located exclusively in Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

How do I sign up for New England Wind?

Those who are not National Grid customers or who would prefer to participate in New England Wind independent of their electric bill can sign up for New England Wind here.  If you’d like to make a monthly contribution that will approximately match your electricity consumption, you can use your calculator, here.  National Grid customers who wish to participate can sign up here.

What happens if I want to opt out of New England Wind?

You can discontinue payments on your National Grid electricity bill or change the amount of your NEW Friends monthly contribution at any time, without any fee.  Just call us at 800-287-3950.

 

About our New England Wind and New England GreenStart programs for National Grid customers

How do New England GreenStart and New England Wind for National Grid customers work?

New England GreenStart and New England Wind are two of the choices offered through a program called GreenUp by National Grid.  GreenUp allows you to choose cleaner, healthier electricity right on your regular utility bill. Options are available for both residential and small commercial customers. As your supplier, National Grid will continue to serve provide your electricity, and perform all of its normal functions and services, while People's Power & Light will be responsible for providing your renewable energy beyond the minimum percentage required by state law.

What is the difference between New England Wind and New England GreenStart?

The major difference is the sources of renewable energy that make up each product. The price also differs.

New England GreenStart is sourced locally from a mix of low-impact hydro, wind, solar, and digester gas (cow power) and costs 2.4 cents per kWh on the National Grid electricity bill.

New England Wind is sourced from 100% new wind power in Massachusetts and Rhode Island and costs 3.8 cents per kWh on the National Grid electricity bill. New England Wind also has a separate payment option which New England GreenStart does not offer. You can choose to make pre-set payments that are automatically-deducted from your credit card on a monthly basis. This makes New England Wind open to everyone, not just National Grid customers. See “About the New England Wind program for everyone” for more details.

What’s the difference between GreenUp and New England GreenStart?

GreenUp is the National Grid program. New England GreenStart is People's Power & Light's brand of green power available through GreenUp. Signing up for GreenUp doesn’t automatically get you New England GreenStart—you have to choose New England GreenStart or New England Wind, offered by People's Power & Light.

What are the sources of New England GreenStart?

New England GreenStart consists of 25 % new renewable energy sources such as wind, solar, landfill gas and anaerobic digester gas (cow power) and 75% small, low-impact hydroelectric.

All of the resources in New England GreenStart are located in New England, with the vast majority in MA and RI. View a map of our current resources.

How much of New England GreenStart is from new resources?

In Rhode Island, 25% of New England GreenStart is generated from new renewable energy resources.  Those that are interested a higher percentage of new renewables should consider New England Wind, which is exclusively from new wind resources.

 What are the sources of New England Wind? How much of it comes from new resources?

New England Wind consists only of new wind resources, located exclusively in Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

Are my payments tax-deductible?

Yes! We are proud to say that every dollar you spend on New England GreenStart or New England Wind is tax-deductible. You cannot get this benefit from any other renewable energy supplier in Rhode Island.

Your payments are recognized as made for the public good and as such, are considered a tax-deductible charitable contribution for federal income tax purposes.

 

How do I know renewable electricity will de delivered to my home?

Electricity produced by the renewable energy resources in New England GreenStart and New England Wind flow into the New England power grid. Every electricity consumer draws upon this "pool" of power, which is a mix of all the resources in New England. While it is physically impossible to distinguish between and deliver individual electrons to specific homes or businesses, by choosing to support renewable electricity, you are increasing the number of green electrons being delivered to the power grid, thus creating a cleaner, healthier overall energy mix.

 

Who do I call if I have a power outage?

In the event of a power outage or other service disruption, you should contact National Grid.

 

How will my electric bill be affected by my participation in the GreenUp program?

If you are a National Grid customer, payments for New England GreenStart or New England Wind will be included in your regular monthly utility bill.

You can choose either New England GreenStart or New England Wind to match your electricity usage.  New England GreenStart costs 2.4 cents/kWh and New England Wind costs 3.8 cents/kWh.The average household using 600 kWh a month would pay $14.40 for New England GreenStart or $22.80 for New England Wind.

 

How will my Basic Service with National Grid be affected?

If you participate in the GreenUp program by enrolling in New England GreenStart or New England Wind, your standing as a Basic Service customer will remain the same. In the event you opt out, you will continue to be served as National Grid customer in that same rate class.

 

Are there any other payments required to participate in New England GreenStart or New England Wind?

There are no additional required fees associated with choosing New England GreenStart or New England Wind. You may be invited to join or make a charitable contribution to People's Power & Light's other programs.

 

How do I enroll?

National Grid customers can enroll in either program quickly and easily by completing our online enrollment form .  Be sure to have a copy of your National Grid bill available for easy reference to your account information.

If you would prefer to receive information in the mail, please call our office at 1-800-287-3950 and one of our customer service representatives will assist you.

 

What happens if I want to opt out?

You can opt out at any time. If you do decide to opt out, you will continue to be served as a regular National Grid customer with the same Basic Service standing you currently receive.