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Green Power Frequently Asked Questions

About Electricity Generation in New England

About choosing Green Electricity

About New England GreenStart


 

About Electricity Generation in New England

What are the sources of my electricity?

In Rhode Island, over 90% of our electricity is generated from fossil fuel and nuclear power resources, causing significant harm to both the environment and public health. 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. 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 "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.  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) and it 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 you choose renewable electricity or standard 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 three 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; 2) If you are a Glacial Energy or Easy Energy customer, you can participate in their green power programs, 3) You can make payments for renewable energy certificates separate from your utility bill (through programs like People's Power and Light’s New England Wind Fund); or 4) 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 to residential and small commercial customers through this program. If you are a National Grid customer and are interested in People's Power & Light’s New England GreenStart program click here.

 

2) Participate in Glacial Energy or Easy Energy’s green power offerings

People's Power & Light works with two alternative providers of electricity (“competitive suppliers”), Glacial Energy and Easy Energy, to offer a New England GreenStart program to their customers that is bundled together with the electricity cost so that you pay one set rate for green electricity service. For more information about Glacial Energy’s green power program for small commercial customers in New England, contact salesne@glacialenergy.com. For more information about Easy Energy’s green power program for both residential and commercial customers, contact service@easyenergyma.com.

 

3) Choose Renewable Energy Certificates

New England Wind Fund is People's Power & Light’s renewable energy certificates-only program Payments for certificates are completely separate from your regular monthly electric bill. Certificate programs are offered through a different company than your utility. Read more about the difference between these options above.

 

4) 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.

 

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 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, Rhode Island has an environmental mandate called the Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard (RPS) which requires electric utilities to include a small but gradually increasing percentage of "new" renewable energy in their supply mix, since 2003. 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 the state RPS law.

 

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.

About New England GreenStart

How does New England GreenStart work?

New England GreenStart is one 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’s the difference between GreenUp and GreenStart?

GreenUp is the National Grid program. GreenStart is Mass Energy and People’s Power & Light’s brand of green power available through GreenUp. Signing up for GreenUp doesn’t automatically get you GreenStart—you have to choose our brand.

 

What are the sources of New England GreenStart?

New England GreenStart consists of 30% new renewable energy sources such as wind, solar and biomass and 75% small hydroelectric.

All of the resources in New England GreenStart are located in New England. View a map of our current resources.

 

Are my payments tax deductible?

Yes! We are proud to say that every dollar you spend on New England GreenStart is tax deductible on your federal income taxes if you itemize you deductions. You cannot get this benefit from any other renewable energy supplier in Massachusetts.

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

 

How much of New England GreenStart is from new resources?

In Massachusetts, 25%  of New England GreenStart is generated from new renewable energy resources. People's Power & Light is committed to increasing the percentage of new renewables in New England GreenStart, particularly wind and solar, as more projects come online.

 

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

Electricity produced by the renewable energy resources in New England GreenStart 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?

Payments for New England GreenStart will be included in your regular monthly utility bill.

You can choose New England GreenStart to match either 100% or 50% of your electricity usage - so whether you have a large household or a small apartment, there is a New England GreenStart option that is right for you. New England GreenStart 100% costs 2.4 cents/kWh and New England GreenStart 50% costs 1.25 cents/kWh. For a  household using 600 kWh a month, your New England GreenStart payments would be $14.40 for 100% of your usage, or $7.50 for 50% of your usage.

 

How will my Basic Service with National Grid be affected?

When you enroll in New England GreenStart, your standing as a Standard Offer or Default Service customer will remain the same. In the event you opt out of New England GreenStart service, 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?

There are no additional fees associated with choosing New England GreenStart. You may be invited to join or make a charitable contribution to Mass Energy’s other programs.

 

How do I enroll in New England GreenStart?

National Grid customers can enroll quickly and easily by completing clicking here 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 of New England GreenStart?

You can opt out of New England GreenStart 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.