In some Wisconsin markets, individuals have received an Email stating “…you can choose wind energy for half your electricity usage for FREE”. UW-Extension’s been asked, is this legitimate? The email is from a company based in DC that takes over your utility bill while you use your same utility, and charges a premium to provide renewable energy certificates (RECs) from wind power. Purchasing REC’s is a legitimate way for individuals and businesses to offset their fossil fuel energy use with clean renewable energy. There are other choices than that business model though.
Many companies provide clean energy RECs in the marketplace. Make sure you know what you’re buying. Look for green-e certified companies; they are third-party verified. Ethos Green Power, Viroqua, WI, is a local certified option that purchases renewable energy from small and medium generators mostly in Wisconsin (the sources are identified on the map at the bottom of the Ethos home page by hovering over a marker). You continue to pay your bill to your utility as usual, and buy REC’s from Ethos for green power. A short video on Ethos home page shows how buying green power works. Some Wisconsin utilities provide green pricing programs that enable customers to offset some or all of their electric use with green power as well.
Wisconsin residents can’t choose their utility in this regulated state, but they can choose to buy clean green power and have some choice about where it comes from. Buying REC’s is an option for those who want to support more renewable energy generation but are unable or prefer not to install their own system, don’t have a local community solar option to buy into or, that have a renewable system that covers only part of their electricity use and want to be fossil fuel free for the rest. Choosing clean energy is not free; but, buying REC’s is an inexpensive and simple option in the short term.